Nhamo Mhiripiri, in his short story entitled No More Plastic Balls, creatively narrates the pains of transformation from childhood to adulthood.
He captures the growing pains of a young boy “caged” by the strict rules of his household. One day the boy broke the chains — tasted freedom and died.
After what seems to be a landslide victory for President Robert Mugabe at the 30th Sadc summit recently in Windhoek, Namibia, one needs to unveil the missing links in the MDC’s political approach — where it is coming from and where it is headed — to avoid the same fate befalling it at the next regional grouping meeting in 2011.
This is on condition that the 30-day ultimatum issued for the resolution of the outstanding issues will lapse without consensus amongst the parties vis-à-vis the Sadc Troika on Defence and Security failing to solve the stand-off.
As a matter of fact, the MDC-T is losing the momentum and goodwill it had gained after the March 11, 2007 calamity when the Save Zimbabwe campaigners were bashed in Highfield, Harare — forcing the African Union, through Sadc, to intervene and mediate in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis.
The following key issues should be dealt with:
It should start building political activity that is aimed at throwing surprises to Zanu PF so that it gains ground for bargaining;
Fill in the missing gaps in its politics through going back to its founding documents, the National Working People’s Convention of February 1999;
The need to maintain and repair bruised ties with its founding alliances; and
Moving away from the myth that it’s ready for an election; it’s a reactionary statement to Zanu PF’s equal myth that it is also ready for an election.
I read of the “verbal war” among the MDC-T and Zanu PF on who is slowing down the full implementation of the GPA soon after the Sadc meeting with sadness.
Zanu PF’s stance was clearly building on the political resolution of its congress held on December 11, 2009 that it would stall any progress if the MDC-T did not call for the removal of sanctions.
This is coming after the same Zanu PF left the MDC-T in a quandary after the former dumped its campaign jingles on the national broadcaster.
It’s a pity the MDC-T didn’t have any political activity in place to force Zanu PF to give in to its demands.
So the MDC will be left whimpering back to Sadcfor intervention. This is rather sad given the fact that Zanu PF convinced the regional grouping that it was one of the towering figures in the region with documented political history in terms of liberation war credentials.
The new Sadc chairperson Hifikepunye Pohamba and his Swapo staunchly support Zanu PF.
The onus, therefore, lies on the MDC-T to strengthen their structures and formulating democratic and peaceful activities that will force Zanu PF to rule the country through negotiation, rather than the current unilateral governance style.
At the moment Zanu PF is working in a reverse chronological mode – its goal clear, to kick the MDC-T out of government through testing its capacity to stand its ground.
The responses by the MDC-T on the other hand are showing that it is only reacting but not managing to match the challenge. Zanu PF is showing its adversaries that it can do it with or without the mandate of the people.
It, therefore, calls for strong leadership to embark on strategic political activities that neutralise such a hegemony. This is not done through issuing a gamut of statements to the press.
The opposite is true, when the press picks up the stories from a systematic political campaign that seeks to move away from the rather intangible concepts of change to delivering real change to the people’s lives.
If one is to measure the performance of the MDC-T in government, s/he has to benchmark it with the declaration of the Working People’s Convention of February 1999.
This is the declaration which tasked the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) with the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It is, therefore, imperative for the movements to self-introspect and reset their buttons in line with what they committed themselves to, namely:
I. The writing of a people’s constitution to be initiated with immediate effect through a constitutional commission not based on presidential/partisan appointment, but defined by and accountable to a conference of representatives of elected, civil and other social groups;
II. A people’s constitution as a reflection of a national value system should be accompanied by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to deal with the unresolved aspects of our past that hinders national integration;
III. The right to a minimum standard of health inputs (food, water, shelter) and health care be defined and entrenched in the Constitution, guaranteed and funded on an equitable basis by the state through its mobilisation of national resources;
IV. Mechanisms should be put in place to equitably and efficiently distribute public, private and household resources for education to enhance the quality of education and to review the education curriculum and support services provided to better prepare children with skills needed to tap the economic and employment opportunities in the next millennium;
V. A housing policy should be developed that integrates housing development across the country, matches community efforts and resources with state, employer and institutional resources; and
VI. Media freedom should be enshrined in the Constitution, supported by an independent media commission and by laws providing for public rights to access information and for curtailment of government control over the media.
The six points randomly picked from the 15 resolutions of the convention glaringly show that the document is gathering dust in the mind of its authors.
The resolutions address issues under the armbit of the MDC- controlled ministries except the media.
The constitution-making process is a fallacy with the drivers of the process pretending to write the country’s supreme law.
In essence, the political parties are campaigning to the people of Zimbabwe so that they reiterate their manifesto positions rather than facilitating for a platform for the people to air their views.
Guided by the founding principles rather than principals, the MDC-T can start building on lasting political activities that bring real change to the people of Zimbabwe than reacting on daily basis to Zanu PF’s political drill.
This is the time for the MDC-T to mend its ties with the founding alliance members and forge genuine processes that are aimed at reviving the commitment to the National Working People’s Convention which is supposed to come up with lasting political activism both during and after the inclusive government.
There has been a lot of grandstanding pertaining to the holding of elections next year. Broadly, the three political parties are not ready for polls.
Specifically, the MDC is not ready for an election next year basing on the following scenarios:
lIt cuts again the tenure of the legislature before end of office;
lIt subjects the party to primary elections which in themselves are nerve-threatening to the internal cohesion vis-a-vis the party’s congress/conference in the same year;
lThe institutions that are supposed to safeguard transparent and free elections are not yet transformed; and
lIt’s fast facing disgruntlement from the founding members such as the teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers and the broader civil service, which to this date, still earns allowances of less than $200. Having noted a wide range of issues which confront the MDC today, one can only impress on the party that the era of plastic balls is gone.
Survival in this highly-contested state arena calls for deliberate efforts towards coming up with political activities to confront Zanu PF at every turn and stop running to Sadc like crybabies without matching the opponent on home ground.
Tabani Moyo is a journalist based in Harare. He can be contacted on email@example.com