MDC-T ‘dumps’ party symbol


As the electioneering mode escalates, the mainstream MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is mulling a rebranding exercise in an attempt to make it distinct from its offshoots, MDC, MDC-M and MDC99, ahead of possible polls President Robert Mugabe wants held this year with or without a new Constitution.

The exercise, insiders said, was also meant to avoid confusion during voting in elections supposed to be held under a new Constitution and roadmap with the involvement of local, regional and international observers to give legitimacy to the outcome.

Party insiders said the MDC-T was concerned by the abuse of its open palm symbol, hence the need to introduce distinctive marks to make it different from the other MDCs.

The MDC is led by Welshman Ncube, MDC-M (Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara) while Job Sikhala heads the MDC99.

Yesterday, MDC-T sources said: “We will not change the symbol per se, but there is growing concern within the party because the other parties are benefiting from our popularity as the biggest political party in the country.

“We are discussing what we can do about it.”
Another source claimed: “The symbol is our identity, but there is concern arising from other people taking advantage of the symbol. It is just a discussion that is underway. It will be a way of distinguishing the party from other parties. We can insert maybe ‘Tsvangirai’ or ‘Real Change’ to the open palm.”

Other insiders felt their supporters, mainly in the rural areas, might get confused ahead of elections that Zanu PF wants held this year.

“The debate failed to come to a logical conclusion when Tsvangirai consulted with legislators late last year on whether or not to change the party symbol as there are now four MDCs using the same logo as well,” the source added.

However, party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “The position is that we will not change our symbol. The MDC is the major party and other little emerging MDCs are just pretenders. We will not change our symbol or our colour.

“However, we are aware of the confusion that some elements working with Zanu PF want to put into the minds of the electorate, but we will not change our symbol or colours. We are aware that other little parties want to benefit from the confusion.”

The MDC was founded in 1999 as an opposition party to Zanu PF-led by President Mugabe. The party split in 2005 following serious disagreement on whether or not to participate in senate elections, with Tsvangirai and other senior party officials going against the idea.

Ncube, then party secretary-general, broke away and formed a splinter MDC, initially led by Mutambara.

Ncube’s formation later suffered another blow after Sikhala formed the MDC99 following his expulsion.

Early last year, Mutambara and Ncube parted ways with the former leading a splinter organisation now known as MDC-M.

The Ncube-led MDC spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi, said his party would retain the symbol and was having no problems with its supporters identifying them so far.

“We don’t have problems with supporters, they know MDC-T, MDC-M,MDC 99 although other two parties (MDC-M and MDC99) do not exist. We don’t have any problems regarding identity and we have no intentions of changing our party symbol. Our symbol shall remain an open hand. Supporters will know who they want,” he said.

Sikhala was unavailable for comment with his lawyers saying he had been arrested on a charge of facilitating the entry of a South African national into Zimbabwe.