After 9 months of negotiation under the auspices of SADC, the MDC was
finally forced to make decisions as to what to do about the whole
process this weekend. Two sets of negotiation had been going on in
parallel - talks with Zanu PF under the facilitation of the South
government and talks with the Mutambara faction of the MDC in the hope
the Party might be reunified to fight the next election.
In the first process we had in fact made huge progress. A comprehensive
package of reforms - some of which have been implemented, was
giving us the chance of a free and fair electoral process if they were
implemented. Mugabe, who all along had been negotiating under duress,
eventually faced with the decision - allow these reforms through and
defeat or just tell his South African and SADC colleagues that they
asking too much - he decided on the latter.
Mbeki was forced to use his last option - to confront Mugabeís
implement the deal negotiated at such expense and time at a meeting of
Heads of State. He did so last week at Addis on the sidelines of the AU
summit and we understand he pulled no punches. However in the end
backed by three other Heads of State - Swaziland, Namibia and Angola
Mbeki came away with no decision - such a decision could only be
taken on a
consensual basis and 4 against censure and 8 in favor was just not
So when the MDC leadership gathered in Harare this weekend to consider
question of fighting the next election, now just two months away, it
against the background of a failed mediation effort by President Mbeki.
addition to this set back, we faced the reality that despite the
already adopted and passed through Parliament with our assistance, the
regime in Harare was maintaining its barrage of anti democratic
against the MDC. Marches and rallies were being banned, there is no
any reform in the media and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is
under the control and direction of the Zanu PF led regime and was being
staffed with many of the old electoral management from the security
The debate in the National Executive and then the Council was short and
the vote came to participate it was carried unanimously, there were no
dissenting voices. I was not surprised at all; I thought we never had
alternative. In answer to those who claimed that by running we were
actually legitimize a rigged election, the President stated that to the
contrary, the only way to demonstrate the illegitimate nature of the
would be to contest every seat and make sure that they have to rig
to get a result in their favor.
So now we have 5 days to put up nearly 2000 candidates under the MDC
That is no small task and itís just as well we anticipated this
are far down the road on this one. I do not think we will get a
into every Rural District Council seat but we will contest every Urban
Council seat and every Parliamentary and Senatorial seat, plus the
Presidency. We launch the campaign on the 17th February in Mutare.
On the second track of negotiations that we were engaged in we had been
talking to the other faction of the MDC for over a year. Initially they
wanted a 'amicable divorce' but insisted on continuing to use the
and symbols and we said that if they wanted to do so, then unity was
only route we would accept.
We have since negotiated a full reunification agreement and when the
election was announced, it was decided to translate that into an
pact that would take us past the elections and then going onto a
where the unification process would be completed. But the devil is
the detail and when the MDC leadership was presented with the suggested
in terms of allocated seats, the whole deal fell apart.
It is now generally accepted that the group led by Mutambara is the
group, the crucial question is how much smaller? Obviously we felt that
is very much the junior player while they (understandably) do not
they accepted the selection of candidates by a democratic system there
have been no real argument - the decision as to who stood where would
left to the Party structures in the electoral districts concerned.
the Mutambara group feared that such a process would decimate their
representation (I agree) and refused to go down that path. In the end
guess failure was inevitable.
In the end we resolved to adopt the unity agreement with one or two
amendments but to go back to the Mutambara group with a revised
of seats - one that our leadership felt was more realistic. The
group rejected this out of hand and we mutually decided to go it alone.
must say, although I had anticipated this outcome, I was astonished by
reaction - not only in the MDC itself but nationally. The decision
received favorably across the country.
So now - for better or worse, we will fight this election - the
led MDC joined by Zanu Ndonga will fight all seats and the Mutambara
will put up as many candidates as they can and run against us. There
other Parties in the game - I know of 5 so far, perhaps with more to
but in essence it will be the three-way scrap between Zanu PF and the
MDC groups that will receive most attention. Only the main wing of the
offers the chance of regime change and this puts all others at a severe
disadvantage, and they know it. There was a profound sense of gloom at
hotel where the Mutambara group was caucusing yesterday in Harare.
But at least we now know where we stand and this ends some of the
uncertainty. Our focus has to be on the campaign - explaining to the
what we will do if elected and I am pleased with what we have done in
preparation for that. Then we must persuade people to turn out and vote
steep hill to climb as the past decade has persuaded many that voting
waste of time.
But our main task will be to stop Zanu PF doing a Kibaki on us -
the result when we have actually done enough to win.
Bulawayo, 4th February 2008