Deliberate Confusion

I attended the National Council of the MDC on Saturday and Sunday in Harare. Driving into the City on Sunday morning I was struck by two headlines "MDC gets Z$8 billion from the State" and "Mutambara to head up the MDC". The first purported to say that the government had decided to award the annual grant for opposition parties to the pro Senate group led by Welshman Ncube and the second referred to the arrival in Harare of a former student leader who was tipped to be elected the leader of the break away group at its congress this weekend.

I do not blame you if you are confused by all this but the facts are quite simple and it is time that everyone connected with this dispute were made aware of these facts and started to behave accordingly. That includes the editors of the Standard and the Independent.

The facts are as follows: -
On the 12th October last year the Council of the MDC met in Harare and voted against the wishes of the President of the Party to support the submission of candidates to the elections for a Senate. The President refused to abide by this decision and at the following meeting of the MDC Council, attended by two thirds of its membership, this decision was reversed unanimously.

Since then we have held 4 subsequent Council meetings - all attended by over two thirds of its membership and 4 National Executive meetings attended by a clear majority quorum. At all these meetings all decisions have been unanimous and have supported the call by the leadership of the Party to boycott the Senate Elections and to support new strategies now being finalized to challenge the Mugabe led regime. The faction of the leadership that broke ranks with the membership of the MDC after the 12th October has attempted once to secure legal Judgment against the MDC for its stand and been rebuffed by the Courts. The MDC has chosen not to go the legal route but simply to follow its own constitution and to get on with its own business. It has consistently said that those who have broken ranks with the MDC may return without prejudice.

There is no question that the name "The Movement For Democratic Change" or the "MDC", the symbols and the flag as well as its slogans for Change are the lawful property of the MDC. Application to register these with the Registrar of Trade Marks was carried out in December and there can be no doubt that they are the legal property of the MDC.

The break away group is still using the Party symbols and slogans and even the name although they are well aware of both the political and the legal position. The MDC legal team will write this week to the break away faction listing their violations of the MDC constitution and pointing out that they have no right to use the name or the symbols of the Party. You might then ask why they persist in doing so - well that is quite easy, if they admit that they are not the MDC and adopt a separate name, it will strip them of the right to occupy and use MDC property - which they are now doing. It will also condemn them to finding their own space in the political spectrum and acceptance for their strategies and policies. The MDC has no fears about its own position either legal or political and welcomes political competition from any quarter.

The truth of the matter is that no decision has been taken as to the eventual beneficiary of the Z$8 billion which is paid out by the State to help political parties fund their activities and Mutambara has not returned to lead the MDC. The MDC has established leadership and we see no possibility of any changes at that level at the MDC Congress set for the 17th to the 19th March 2006.

What the break away group is claiming to be the MDC Congress and which will be held this weekend in Bulawayo, is in fact just an extended rally of the break away group. It has not been properly called, the notice given and the delegates attending have no foundation in the Party and any decisions taken there will have no influence or effect on the MDC itself. The group does not even have a valid constitution - this is to be adopted by the meeting this weekend. So the advert carried in the Independent on Friday to the effect that this was the "Second MDC National Congress" is simply nonsense.

In the MDC itself, we have now concluded the holding of all 12 Provincial Party Congresses at which leadership has been elected at this level by representatives of our 4500 branches, 1900 Ward Committees and 120 Districts. In all some 8000 delegates attended these Congresses and the new leadership is now preparing for delegates to attend the main Party Congress on the 17th March. We anticipate that 12 000 delegates will attend out of the total number of those eligible of 17 000. Notice of the Congress has been properly given and the required press notice placed.

Intense lobbying is taking place across the country for the 9 senior Party leadership posts that are up for election - while we expect that Morgan Tsvangirai will stand unopposed, all the other positions will be contested. At yesterdays Council meeting we had a full house again - the breakaway leadership at Provincial level have all been replaced and all 12 Provinces were fully represented. Council agreed the agenda for Congress, as were amendments to the Party Constitution, which are due for adoption. The Council also instructed the leadership to seek an amicable separation from the activities of the break away group. We do not want to waste time and resources on a futile scrap that just leaves people confused and does nothing about the crisis confronting the country and its people. As far as the MDC is concerned it is long past the time when the break away group should form a new political Party and decide on its own agenda and programme.

The MDC Congress in March will be a celebration of our achievements over the past 6 years - we have survived, we have beaten Zanu PF at the elections even though we were frustrated by the rigging and electoral fraud on all three occasions. We are the first opposition political party in Zimbabwe's short history to show that it is capable of taking on the ruling Party and beating it in a free and fair election.

By contrast Zanu PF is in a shambles, the countries economy has collapsed, there is insufficient food, fuel and electricity to keep the nation running. They are at the end of their tether and the MDC is still in fighting form. We are no longer going to fight futile electoral contests where Zanu is the referee and the judge. We now want a clean break with the past, a new constitution and a transitional administration that will take us to free and fair democratic elections in 2007 under international supervision. Then we will find out who has the people's trust and who gets the responsibility to put Zimbabwe back on the map.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 20th February 2006.