ON Monday, June 9, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change appeared in the High Court handcuffed, in leg irons and wearing a flimsy khaki prison garb. At the Avenues and Dandaro clinics, scores of MDC supporters lay injured after
having been savagely tortured, beaten up or raped by people they alleged were soldiers, youth militia or police.
Daily at the MDC offices, hundreds of MDC supporters, including ordinary citizens who have little interest in active politics, stream in to relate horrendous stories of personal abuse, torture and pain.
The MDC is battling to provide legal assistance and bail to hundreds of its supporters who are being arrested on a daily basis for the typical Zimbabwean crime of fighting for democratic space.
On June 13, Wilbert Mukori, a Zimbabwean writer based in London, writing in the Zimbabwe Independent, accused the MDC of being “confused and confusing”. He blames the MDC for the failure of the demonstrations. He concedes though that “ordinary people were out en masse in response to the MDC’s final push call”.
One sincerely hopes that Mukori and the estimated 500 000 Zimbabweans in exile in the UK were all gathered in front of the Zimbabwe High Commission building in the Strand on that day. Of course, it would have strengthened the numbers of those ordinary people in Zimbabwe had they been here. But then one cannot be in two places at a time!
What was the purpose of Mukori’s article? Criticism oils the wheels of democracy and enhances values of tolerance for parties and leaders. In a situation of war, however, soldiers on the ground require morale boosting and not criticism that fails to acknowledge the immense sacrifices and gains achieved by the brave people who face up to Mugabe’s tyranny on a daily basis.
Mukori pines that “the MDC should be helping the victims file cases against those responsible for these and many other barbaric acts of the recent past”. The MDC’s legal department is already seized with this matter. It would be helpful if Mukori and others abroad would undertake to adopt some of these cases. We need all the assistance we can get.
The MDC is promoting a new constitutional dispensation in Zimbabwe to ensure that “once elected, they too will not become as brutal and self-serving as the current crop of Zanu PF…” A flawed constitutional arrangement such as the one obtaining in Zimbabwe makes possible the horrible abuses that we are witnessing.
Mukori’s observation that “so far the MDC, like Zanu PF, has shown they have no vision” is his entitlement. I believe this is a man who has access to the Internet, has accessed the MDC’s website, has read all of the MDC’s policy positions.
I assume therefore that he concludes after having familiarised himself with these positions that the MDC lacks vision. All I can say is that Mukori is one of a few we have, as a party, failed to win over with our policies. We will keep trying.
Mukori’s attempts to strengthen his perception of a visionless MDC by quoting the MDC leader’s position on a transition is out of context. In 90 days a serious people desirous of arresting their country’s slide to total oblivion can fashion a transitional mechanism that gets rid of Posa and many other obnoxious, anti-democratic pieces of legislation. After all these laws were fast-tracked in no time at all for evil purposes. The reverse is within reach if our collective intention is to achieve positive results for our people.
The final push is happening as gallant Zimbabweans continue to derive inspiration from their own resolve and history of struggle for injustice. In the streets, in those factories that have withstood Mugabe’s destructive economic polices, in rural homes where state-sponsored terror reigns supreme, people continue to contribute to the final push by avoiding the lazy and easier role of armchair critics and join the marches in London that are organised by Zimbabweans in exile.
All of us have a positive role to play. We need each other’s solidarity and encouragement to actualise the final push. We invite Mukori to join us in the struggle. He will not lose his right to criticise.
Paul Themba Nyathi,
MDC Secretary for
Information and Publicity.