MDC gets its politics right
It’s a question still vexing a lot of people’s minds. Did the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) sell-out when it voted with the ruling party on Constitutional Amendment Number 18 which will usher harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local government elections?
MDC allies said it had sold out and were threatening to withdraw their support for the opposition. Party leaders said this was the first step towards the final resolution of the current national crisis. Morgan Tsvangirai leader of the main faction said this was a “bold and correct decision taken to locate the exit points to the political logjam”.
I am tempted to agree with Tsvangirai. I sincerely believe that the MDC has finally got its politics right. The constitution might not be perfect but the opposition must know when to play its cards right. That is what they did. The opposition should not pander to people’s whims, but should look at what is good for the country in the long run. A lot of people might not agree with me but I believe that President Robert Mugabe has been looking for a dignified exit for some time.
The draft constitution of 2000 was one of such avenues but the opposition together with the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) thought otherwise. They rejected the constitution. The only reason was that they thought Mugabe was trying to entrench his powers and remain in office. I sincerely believe that Tsvangirai could have won the 2000 elections if the country had accepted the new constitution. ZANU-PF was so relaxed that it would have lost the elections just the same way it suffered its first defeat when people rejected the draft constitution.
Instead the rejection of the draft constitution turned out to be ZANU-PF’s salvation. It was not just a wake-up call for the ruling party but it forced ZANU-PF to come down on the people that had rejected its package with vengeance. The MDC lost the election narrowly proving that it could have won had it not put ZANU-PF on alert. If people had not rejected the constitution, Tsvangirai would have become Prime Minister while Mugabe remained titular president.
That would have been the end of ZANU-PF because the warring factions within the ruling party would not have ganged up against the MDC but would probably have started looking for accommodation within the MDC thus splitting the party. The harmonised elections have offered the MDC a second chance. Mugabe is hanging on because he does not trust his lieutenants.
Contrary to what most people think, I believe Mugabe is now being held to ransom by his own lieutenants. By agreeing to change the constitution with Mugabe the MDC has done what he has always wanted –Kugadzirisa zvinhu zvemumusha menyu pachenyu (settling your own internal squabbles between yourselves). The MDC should not be able to get more concessions from Mugabe. This might not be enough to win them an election but they should be enough for the country to have free and fair elections. Free and fair elections will mean real change that can lead to an economic turn around.
Besides, the MDC has now demonstrated to Mugabe that it has national interests at heart. It is an independent party and not a puppet of any Western powers as Mugabe and the ruling party wants the nation to think. If the policies are right, it will support them, but at the same time it will not support something that it knows is not of national interest.
No doubt, the MDC would have scored more marks internationally if it had voted against the amendment and continued with its line of demanding free and fair elections, a level playing field, a new constitution and the lot. But so far these demands have only brought down the wrath of ZANU-PF.
I am not saying Mugabe is just hanging on for the sake of the nation. No. He loves power. But I believe he is also seeking a noble exit. The biggest problem is that he has left things too late. His lieutenants are benefiting so much from the present chaos that they are not ready to let go. They are therefore using him to perpetuate the status quo. Sadly the same applies to some people in the opposition. They are making so much money from the present chaos that they too, do not want change.
Publicly they are calling for Mugabe to go but deep down they want him to stay because they will lose their livelihood if he goes. What will happen to the NCA, for example, if the government and opposition agree to a new constitution and have free and fair elections? What will happen to the Crisis Coalition once there is no crisis? Mugabe is a cash cow for thousands of Zimbabweans. His departure means starvation to a lot. Just imagine, while most people in industry and commerce and the public service are taking home less than $3 million a month, a messenger at an NGO walks away with not less than $50 million.
Better still, look at the money that was splashed around at the stakeholders meeting held in Bulawayo at the weekend to mobilise people against the MDC decision. Lunch for one person was more than a teacher’s salary. It cost $2.8 million a plate when more than a third of the nation has no food.
Tags: MDC , Movement For Democratic C , NCA , National Constitutional A
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