ONE of MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai’s recent messages to the people of Zimbabwe read: “The regime pulled out its last card, but nothing has come out of it: whites, land, puppets, price controls, media controls, intolerance, nationalism
, anti-corruption, cosmetic electoral reforms, nothing. After five hectic years, we are worse off than we were in 2000″.
Nothing could be closer to the truth than this. However, what he did not say is how the MDC government would address the issues raised in his message.
Logically, one would not expect a national address to discuss each of these issues in detail. But if the truth be told, the MDC has shortchanged the people of Zimbabwe in more than a hundred plus one ways.
While the MDC can justifiably indicate that it has never been afforded a fair deal on the political platform in Zimbabwe, it has also dismally failed to take advantage of the few opportunities that have come its way to make the people of Zimbabwe know what exactly it stands for.
The MDC has more than 50 MPs in the House, a number big enough to make its presence felt in the House and influence the course of events in Zimbabwe. One is inclined to believe that if the MDC had used its numbers in parliament, the land redistribution process would not be the disastrous failure it has become and agricultural production would not be at its current low levels.
Obviously, to gain political mileage the MDC blames the political and economic situation obtaining in Zimbabwe today on the government of President Mugabe, but in reality, the opposition party is equally to blame for not having positively influenced the course of events in the process.
In the first place, there was no way the MDC could have stopped President Mugabe and his government from undertaking the land reform exercise which has arguably brought the nation to where it is today, given the situation on the ground at the time. But had the MDC effectively used its presence in parliament, the process could have taken a different direction.
For example, when the MDC realised that President Mugabe was going to politicise the land issue, it should have publicly supported the government on the need to undertake land reform in the country and offered him all the support needed in the process.
Using its numbers in parliament, the MDC should have strongly lobbied for a parliamentary resolution on land redistribution taking everybody’s interests into account and at the same time insisting that illegal occupation of the farms should be stopped. This would have neutralised the zeal with which President Mugabe was making noise about the whole issue. The nonsense that the MDC is a puppet of the West would have fallen apart.
The strategy would have worked more in favour of the MDC than the government. In the process of coming up with a parliamentary resolution on land reform, one of the methods that could have been used was to establish a working committee. This could have given the MDC an opportunity to consult with the farmers who, from the look of things, were part of its constituency and had everything to gain from supporting the process.
Whatever the resolution, the MDC would have at least influenced the course of action to some extent. Even if the resolution would not have satisfied everyone, the MDC would have a credible platform to stand on and tell Zimbabwe that they tried but the government betrayed the nation.
Commercial farmers would have lost part of the land they possessed but they would not have migrated to other countries in their thousands.
Unfortunately, the MDC chose to gain political mileage on the international scene at the expense of its constituency at home.
If the MDC is voted into office next March, one wonders whether it would come up with a land redistribution policy of its own and start the whole process all over again, giving the weary and hungry Zimbabweans another torrid time.
The situation on the ground is unbearable, to say the least. The MDC should use whatever means available to make the nation clear on what it stands for. It is not enough to go shouting about the existence of the so-called “Restart” programme without educating the nation on its contents.
The MDC should make use of the remaining private media, however small it could be, to educate its constituency on the contents of the programme.
From time to time, one should read the alternatives the MDC is going to provide the people of Zimbabwe. But unfortunately, from what one reads in the press, one could be forgiven for believing that all the MDC can give the people of Zimbabwe is a barrage of criticism of government policies without putting credible alternatives on the table for the nation.
Again parliament is preparing to debate a new Bill on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which many in the sector fear will do to them what the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) has done to most of the private press – muzzle and stifle them.
Surely, once again, the MDC cannot stop Zanu PF from passing the Bill, but it has the numbers in parliament to make the Bill if not “bearable”, at least not another oppressive government instrument.
The MDC should know by now that, diplomatically, one should not always stand on an opposing platform to get a desired solution to a controversial issue. It should learn to take Zanu PF by surprise when the latter least expects it.