HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsZimbabwe: A new beginning beckons

Zimbabwe: A new beginning beckons

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The MDC-T has just completed its annual policy conference. At the conference delegates from all 12 (party) provinces came together to debate the policy platform of the party for the forthcoming elections.

Guest Column with Eddie Cross

It was in many respects a celebration of the fact that the party has survived 14 years of intense attacks by the Zanu PF elite supported by the national administration and the securocrats. In addition, the conference received a policy document that had taken three years to develop and draft.

It was a colourful and cheerful event and I think that the policy document is the best that we have developed so far. It was helped by the advice and guidance of many external experts and the work of party secretaries and committees. Its development was enhanced by the fact that many of the leaders of the MDC-T have now been in government for the past four years. I think the other parties in this election are going to be hardpressed to equal this comprehensive statement.

Of course, not all will agree with its contents, but at least they will know where we stand on most of the key issues. This is especially important this year as I am sure that the MDC-T will be elected into power in the elections and, therefore, these policies are likely to be studied very closely in many parts of the world where companies and individuals with interests in Zimbabwe want to know what they can expect.

But the main impact was on the attendees — most of whom came from poor communities in both urban and rural areas. These people thought that the men and women that they elected into power in 1980 would deliver a better quality of life to them and their families. Since then, they have watched their hopes fade and their faith turned to despair. Despair has now turned into anger as Zanu PF not only destroyed much of the economy, took over much of what was left and pushed Zimbabweans into a state of poverty that they can hardly understand.

When I hear people express the view that Zanu PF is busy rebuilding their support and reputation with the electorate, I find that amusing. Nothing is going to wipe out the memory of what Zanu PF has done to the population of Zimbabwe in the past three decades.

Now that the conference is behind us, we are pressing on with all that we have to do to ensure that the people can vote in peace and in secret, without fear of retribution; that they will be able to vote in the knowledge that the election will not be rigged and the result will be based on the genuine views of the people. They must be able to vote in the sure knowledge that their vote will be respected and that the people they give a clear majority are able to assume power and the control of the State and all its resources without any interference, local or foreign.

With hard power almost entirely in the hands of rogue elements in Zimbabwe and the capacity of democratic forces limited to soft power, we are dependent on regional governments in seeking to enforce the necessary reforms that are required to deliver a free and fair election. Many are sceptical of their willingness to play this role and their capacity to exercise the required power and influence.

I have no doubt about the last, but am concerned about the will to use the power and influence that they have in this sphere. A good start was made last week when the Sadc leadership reiterated their support for the Global Political Agreement and the consequential reform process. There is much to do, the voters’ roll is heavily manipulated and distorted, voter education and registration is a shambles and politically skewed. Campaign conditions are far from open and free, the security forces are still engaged in the process of trying to manipulate the outcome of the vote.

I have no doubt where the people are, they are going to vote for the MDC-T in overwhelming numbers, their faith in democracy is still intact, but we cannot rely on their patience and understanding for very much longer. They have had their voting rights and the results falsified for so long that only the continued faith in the MDC-T keeps them committed to democracy as the way forward and as the only means by which they can change the government.

As was stated at the conference, when we assume power later this year it will be after a protracted struggle by the poor majority in Zimbabwe to free themselves of a tyrannical regime that has all but destroyed their country. They have done this without resorting to violence in any form, seeking only to protect their rights, their freedoms and their future. I am profoundly moved by their courage and determination and so should be the rest of the world.

Eddie Cross is MDC MP for Bulawayo South. This article first appeared on his website www.eddiecross.africanherd.com

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