A political Party is very similar in structure and function to a
soil in which it is planted is the people of the country and its
the structures it establishes to represent the interests of the
communities among which it functions. The stem of the tree is its
leadership and the branches represent the roots of the Party in the
eye - the Congress, its main decision making organs and Executive.
There are a number of things about trees that we must bear in mind -
can be killed by any number of things - termites getting at the
storm damage, drought and simply old age. Pruning also often
them - many only bear fruit if they are pruned on a regular basis.
they all need water, good soil and heat to thrive.
It's like that in Zimbabwe. Our political trees have grown up and
for a while and then died. The political structures that dominated in
Rhodesian era - the long period of government under the tutelage of
Godfrey Huggins, then the Rhodesian Front under Ian Smith. Zapu and
its offshoot - Zanu and more recently the emergence and decline of
My son has a huge Erythrina abyssinica in his garden that has
died. It showed no real sign of distress until a huge part of the
suddenly died and had to be cut down and then the whole tree
Zanu PF is in the process of dying - its roots are shrinking, it is
to get its membership to renew their pledges of loyalty and the
have withdrawn their support. You can fight this sort of thing, but
reality is that there is not much you can do about it and when it
- the final fall is fast and total. Look at the fate of the Rhodesian
Front and Zapu, look at the fate of the old Nationalist Party in
Africa; they virtually no longer exist yet at one time they were
the forest, towering above the others.
In the case of the MDC we have had some storm damage. A wind blew up
South Africa and ripped a large branch out of the side of the main
the MDC tree. It has left an ugly scar and will take a long time to
In fact it will probably affect the long-term shape of the tree and
appearance. But the issue that confronts us in Zimbabwe and
those of us, who are in the opposition, is which section of the tree
retained its links with the roots of the MDC.
Well, both sections have had their Congress's and I think we have the
right now to say that the main stem of the Party and 95 per cent of
root structure, were left standing with Morgan Tsvangirai. The branch
broke ranks with Morgan over the Senate issue are in reality simply a
broken branch that now lies on the ground without sufficient root
structure to sustain its mass or deliver any fruit to its members. It
either die or become firewood - like Zanu PF or it will simply lie
on the forest floor a crippled and broken branch of the original MDC.
The MDC Congress this past weekend attracted nearly 20 000 delegates
others who tried to secure accreditation to attend on Saturday and
In the end, 15 000 delegates were accredited and when proceeding
time on Saturday - the Chairman got up to speak at exactly 10.00
the stadium was packed to the roof and the doors with an enthusiastic
crowd from every corner of the country. The 12 Provincial delegations
in blocks and it was an impressive sight to see the response when
asked to identify themselves.
They came on foot, by train and by bus and mini taxi. The great
were simple rural farmers and urban workers. Their over riding
were to be there to show their continued support for the MDC and its
leadership under Morgan Tsvangirai. I was not invited to the Congress
the break away faction (even though I was technically a member of
National Executive and Council) but I played a small role in the
held in Harare. What I saw and felt there was the spirit of the MDC -
vibrant, energetic and democratic - almost to a fault.
In an amazing way we were able to pay for Congress, we rented the
brought in professional caterers (at Morgan's insistence) and were
accommodate people all over the City. On Sunday we got all the
Treasurers together and asked them how much money they needed to get
- we then went to a location in the City where we had what money was
available and we were able to pay out 95 per cent of what was asked
astonishing when you know that we had no support from any major
our State funding was arbitrarily handed over to the break away group
time for their Congress.
We adopted the reports tabled at Congress - also a much-revised
constitution for the Party - an outstanding job done by a team under
Biti. We also adopted a revised policy statement and the report of
disciplinary committee. The leaders of the break away group were
from the MDC with Morgan saying that this was a great loss as these
some of the key players in the formation of the Party and its many
On Sunday we carried out another accreditation process and then voted
our leadership. The outcome was as follows: M Tsvangirai; President,
Khupe; Vice President, I Matongo; Chairman, L Moyo; Vice Chairperson,
Secretary General; T Biti, Deputy; T Mashakada, Organising Secretary;
Mudzuri, Deputy; D Komiche, Party Spokesperson; N Chamisa, Treasurer
General; R Bennett.
This is a strong team - disappointing that there is only one woman in
line up - an ongoing problem in the MDC. We will try to correct that
the rest of the Executive and National Council. But there are three
Matabeleland representatives - both the Chairpersons of Matabeleland
and North were elected to national posts.
The President called for a winter of discontent and dissidence
a new Constitution for the country and a new democratic beginning.
Congress was the start of that process and we are now into the
implementation phase. I expect real action this time and there is,
first time, going to be a confrontation. I wish it were otherwise but
no longer have any choice. Perhaps when we get to start pushing that
tree called Zanu PF, we will find that it is so rotten underground
just falls over - we just have to watch out for collateral damage.
Bulawayo, 20th March 2006.