Getting Back into Gear

If that was Christmas, it's over. Now back to the future! After all the confusion, accusation and counter accusations of the latter part of 2005, 2006 is seeing the slow evolution of a new dispensation within the MDC. We have been plodding away at preparations for the next Congress of the Party which will be held on the 18th and 19th of March 2006. This is later than required by the constitution and the leadership will have to ask Congress to condone this lapse when it meets. The reasons are obvious to all and there should be no problems with this issue.

Ten of the 12 Provincial Congresses have now been held - well attended in all cases by delegates from the Branches, Wards and Provincial structures. New leadership has been elected and in most cases there is a general improvement in the quality and character of the leadership that has been elected. On Saturday we had the first opportunity to meet many of the new leaders as they attended the National Council meeting. I was impressed. Bulawayo and Matabeleland South remain for next weekend and once these two are completed we will then be able to issue invitations to the main Congress of the Party.

Some 15 000 people will be eligible to attend Congress as delegates and these together with our guests will mean that we will have a very large number of people at Congress. This will be our second Congress - the first being in late 1999 when we met at the National Aquatic Sports Center in Chitungwiza. This year we go to the National Sports Center in Harare. At Congress, the process of healing the wounds of the split in our leadership will finally be dealt with and a full contingent of national leaders elected.

I am looking forward to Congress - it will be a real celebration of the democratic spirit in Zimbabwe. A celebration of courage and determination to stand up to a tyrannical dictatorship in defense of our rights as people. A celebration of survival; in spite of all that has been thrown at us over the past 6 years, we are still here, still in good spirit and still determined to finish what we started out to do in 1997.

The second aspect of the Congress will be to cement the consensus we have evolved together over the past six years in respect to our philosophy and ideology as well as the policies that flow from those foundations. We are a social democratic movement and as such our policies will reflect our commitment to the welfare of our people and the development of our country.arareHar To facilitate this a full policy review is under way. The third aspect will be to work out how we are going to achieve our main goal - that of effecting regime change in Zimbabwe.

There are very few in Zimbabwe today who do not accept that Zanu PF has completely failed to manage our political and economic affairs. We have seen the most rapid collapse of an economy in African history - and in a country that is not at war and has no internal armed struggle. This has been a self-inflicted collapse and the regime shows no sign of either understanding what it has done or how to fix the problem. We have no alternative but to now seek their removal from power and the instillation of a new government that will tackle our massive and urgent problems and restore our dignity as a nation.

The question is how? We have tried the democratic route and been frustrated at every hurdle. The report on the Presidential election in 2002 is now out in draft form and being examined by Party leaders. It is a completely damming indictment of the whole electoral process as developed and managed by Zanu PF since 1980. It reveals a completely manipulated and corrupted voters roll, a sophisticated system designed distort the roll to accommodate every sort of electoral fraud. It uncovers the role of the "Command Center" a sinister body run by the military and security agencies that actually administers all elections from the headquarters of the CIO in Harare and that has links to every polling station in the country. It shows how this body distorted the results - blatantly manipulating the voting figures that were coming out of the polling stations themselves.

It reinforces our claim that the Registrar Generals Office is totally partisan and is actually the main agent used for the manipulations and distortion of voting rights, citizenship and creating the capacity for vote fraud on a massive scale. This damming report coupled to the already well established (confirmed by the Courts) use of food and violence as a means of influencing voter behavior makes the idea of regime change via democratic means simply a joke.

We have tried the legal route - we took 35 of the June 2000 election results to Court, as is our right in terms of the law and our constitution. It took the Courts 5 years to hear 12 cases - award 7 to the MDC and dismiss 5 and the rest fell away when the next elections took place. In only two cases were the electoral challenge procedures completed, MDC won both but so late that our extra Members of Parliament never had a chance to attend even one session.

Then there was the legal challenge to the election of Mugabe as State President in 2002. He purportedly won that by a significant margin but we know that in fact a two-thirds majority defeated him. We took this to the Courts within 30 days of the election - today, 5 years later, the case has still not been heard and in desperation we have now appealed to the Supreme Court. After 4 years of repeated legal appeals we eventually got the papers from that election into the Courts in Harare and obtained access. It has taken us many months of hard work to investigate just what went on - with no cooperation at all from the powers that be in Harare. Now we have the facts the lawyers tell me they have no confidence that they will ever get the case into Court.

So no democratic means, no legal means - what next? We ourselves rule out violence and armed struggle - we have been down that road before and see no future for anyone there. So what way to go? Well first we have to set our goals - that is in the process of taking shape in the MDC but I think it is going to be a new national, peoples driven constitution. Once that is in place then a normalization period to stabilize the situation on the ground (food and security) and then fresh elections under international supervision.

"You will never get Zanu PF to agree to that" - agreed, therefore there will have to be some use of force and here we will use the methods refined over the past centuries by similar populations living under tyrannies - civil disobedience, strikes, stay aways, boycotts and pressure on all associated with the regime to concede the need for a new beginning.

At rallies over the past weekend the leadership of the MDC spoke to thousands of its supporters and outlined to them their thinking. There is no doubt about our need. No doubt about our determination and we have no doubt about our eventual victory. History is on our side, the people will prevail and this time Zanu PF will have no place to hide, not even in Pretoria. As Roy Bennett said at the recent Council meeting "we have won seats in Parliament, taken control of a majority of the Cities and Towns and what have we achieved for our people - nothing!" He asked? "In what way can we say that what we have been doing in the past six years has benefited the ordinary man in the street?" He said this in support of a call for radical new strategies to confront Zanu PF in all spheres and for the MDC to abandon strategies that do not yield change. He is absolutely right.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 9th January 2006