Better late than never
The damage done by the split in the ranks of the MDC in October last
now almost fully repaired. The reasons for the decision of a small
leaders to leave the Movement and form a new political grouping are
unclear. But whatever the motivation I think they now realize that the
exercise has taken them into a cul de sac.
MDC has regrouped and restructured around Morgan Tsvangirai and the
elected leadership is beginning to function well. There are some very
significant new players drawn from the academic world and the team of
policy portfolio secretaries is starting to work together to craft
appropriate and effective new policy positions to assist in the
rehabilitation and reconstruction of our society and economy.
This process has not been easy or without pain. We continue to miss
of the leadership that hived off into the new group and we eventually
they will join the 30 or so leaders who have returned to the main wing
the MDC under its new leadership. These are now gradually being
into the structures of the Party and hopefully, this process will
heal the wounds in the ranks of the opposition.
Perhaps events in the past week will accelerate that process. On
broad coalition of Churches called the Christian Alliance, called a
convention to debate the way forward. They invited everyone – including
ruling Party and all other political parties. The Trade Unions were
represented, civil society in the form of representatives of dozens of
groups and organisations also attended.
At the Convention, all of the major players were invited to give their
views of the crisis facing Zimbabwe and the way forward. Needless to
Zanu PF did not attend with one or two Ministers making disparaging
about the event – Nathan Shamuyarira said that they did not want to be
what to do. Another Minister remarked that “Zanu faced no crisis and
was nothing to talk about”! That pretty much sums up the position of
Another interesting development was a peculiar press advert in the
on Friday saying that the organs representing the main traditional
were not idle – they were meeting all stakeholders and were trying to
negotiate a solution. I thought the tone of this advert was a little
All the same, when I sat down in the large tent with several hundred
delegates on Saturday, I was delighted to see a row of dedicated local
Christian leaders – many of whom I know well, occupying the top table.
prayed and sang hymns and were subjected to a real “hot gospel” sermon
before we were allowed to get on with the business in hand. One of the
presenters said that it was good to see the Church taking a stand – but
were “too late”. The Church leaders apologized for the dilatory
the Zimbabwe crisis and to the abject suffering of the people under the
current regime. There was great emphasis on the need for the Nation to
repent of the crimes committed against the people under the Gukurahundi
All five opposition Parties were represented by their main leaders.
asked to speak in turn and when the opportunity came for the leader of
break away faction of the MDC to speak he raised the issue of
unity and pledged to facilitate that process. Following this statement
was subjected to a barrage of comment from the floor and shouts of
and “now”. He then gave a caveat that such unity could only be found on
basis of adherence to the fundamental principles under which the MDC
been formed in 1999. No problem with that.
When Morgan spoke there was a hushed silence except for heckling from
Sikhala who was attending as a part of the Mutambara group. He was
by the crowd and Morgan then called all the leaders of the opposition
parties to the podium where he said that they were committing
unity of purpose in confronting the regime and that he hoped that we
now see action and less talk to give this new unity expression.
He then went on to outline the way forward and the “road map” that the
was proposing and supported the ‘Democracy Charter” that was being
the Convention by the Crisis Coalition. He said that when the MDC had
formed in 1999, it had been given a mandate by the Working Peoples
Convention to fight for change through peaceful, legal, democratic
The MDC had carried this banner for 6 years with many successes but it
to be accepted now that these means could not deliver change and a new
tactics and strategies were required.
It was, Morgan stated, for this reason that the MDC was proposing to
leadership of all democratic forces in the country, that we now move
democratic resistance strategies designed to secure a negotiated
of the political crisis and to chart the way forward.
The Convention divided up into 6 working groups and when these came
together in the late afternoon, the Convention adopted a series of
resolutions unanimously to give effect to the creation of a “Broad
, coordinated and led by the Christian Alliance, to confront the regime
force negotiations. Organisations represented at the Convention were
days to accept the resolutions and to join the Alliance formally – the
meeting of leadership was scheduled for the following weekend.
This is a major step forward in the struggle for a new dispensation in
Zimbabwe. It was very good to hear a clear, principled statement from
leaders in support of peaceful mass action to force the Zanu PF led
to come to the negotiating table. In a very real way this meeting marks
begining of a new phase in the democratic struggle to bring about real
change in the way Zimbabwe is being governed.
I am waiting to see who emerges as full participants in the new
The MDC National Council met on Sunday – within 24 hours of the
Coalition meeting and resolved to adopt the resolutions of the Alliance
to join in its activities immediately. We hope that this will lead to
upsurge in the level of activity designed to get negotiations going as
Bulawayo, 2 August 2006.