THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC should use its ninth anniversary celebrations in Gweru on Sunday to address problems in the party if it is to achieve the goals it set for itself at its inception in September 1999, political analysts have said.
The analysts said the MDC had very little to celebrate at the anniversary to be held under the theme “Together to the end â€” Celebrating the peopleâ€™s victory” as its major objective was not to be in parliament, but taking over power from President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.
However, MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa thinks that the countryâ€™s main opposition party has achieved a lot.
Chamisa said: “MDC has now reached the puberty stage. It managed to introduce a culture of democracy and politics of non-violence in the country as well as in the region. We have proved that dialogue can be a democratic way of removing a dictator rather than going to war like other African countries.”
He said one of the biggest things that the party has managed to achieve was having the majority seats in the House of Assembly, dethroning Zanu-PF, which has been in control of parliament since 1980.
The MDC came close to victory in the June 2000 parliamentary elections when it won 57 of the 120 contested seats while Zanu PF won 63.
In the March 2005 parliamentary elections, the MDC performed badly and won 41 seats against Zanu PFâ€™s 78. The other seat went to independent lawmaker for Tsholotsho Jonathan Moyo.
This year, the MDC managed to win majority seats in the House of Assembly. It garnered 100 seats, Zanu PF 99 and MDC-Mutambara 10 seats.
The Tsvangirai-led MDC national chairman Lovemore Moyo was elected speaker of the House of Assembly, the first opposition member to occupy the powerful position since 1980.
“Having the majority seats in parliament has been one of our biggest achievements that we celebrate this anniversary and we hope to turn it into a robust and vibrant platform for active debate that will see the peopleâ€™s concerns discussed,” Chamisa said. “We were the first party to defeat Mugabe as shown by the March 29 elections. He had never before tasted that pile of defeat.”
He said this yearâ€™s theme was meant to encourage people to remain united by the common desire for democracy against all odds and problems.
“We will also take time to reflect on our comrades who have left us under sorry circumstances remembering what they were fighting for and it has to be fulfilled, otherwise it would be a betrayal,” Chamisa added.
The MDC claims that 131 of its supporters were killed by suspected Zanu PF militia since the March 29 harmonised elections.
Chamisa accused Zanu PF of throwing spanners into the works, such as hostile legislation, to derail the MDC from attaining its goals.
“We have not failed to remove Mugabe from power. His continued stay in power is an accident of history. The fact that someone stole our victory does not undermine our drive for democratic change,” the Kuwadzana MP said.
But political commentator and National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku said though the MDC was successful in promoting diversity in politics and advocated “some sense of democracy” in the country, it was still far from achieving the goals it set out at its formation.
He said: “The purpose of forming the MDC was not to be in parliament or having many councillors, but it was taking over government power, using democratic means to capture state power and utilise it for the benefit of the people.
“They should not boast about taking over parliament or having their member as the speaker of parliament, the speaker is just there to chair parliament and he has to be impartial. To control parliament is to control the line of debate of which parliament hasnâ€™t sat as yet.”
Eldred Masunungure, a University of Zimbabwe political science professor, said the MDC had managed to score a number of victories in its nine years of existence, but said the party during the celebrations should give a lot of attention to its weaknesses.
Masunungure said: “The MDC managed to create a form of political dispensation. Unlike other opposition parties such as the Forum Party or Margaret Dongoâ€™s Zimbabwe Union of Democrats which collapsed, the MDC still holds on. It has been quite viable and can be taken seriously. Even Zanu PF agreed to sit down and have talks with it.”
He added that the partyâ€™s formation came at a heavy cost, which saw the polarisation of the Zimbabwean social and political relations.
He said the MDC was over ambitious when it was formed.
“It took Zanu PF 17 years to overthrow (Ian) Smithâ€™s regime. There is still a long way to go for MDC. If I was Tsvangirai I wouldnâ€™t be disappointed if I am still not in power right now, but probably would be after 17 years. It is not something easy to overthrow a party like Zanu PF,” Masunungure said.
“As a young political party MDC has a lot to learn and it needs to reduce its over-reliance on the propertied classes. Over-dependence on white capital is one of MDCâ€™s major weaknesses that they should seriously try to overcome. They should try to repair that damage by being more Afro-Centred and not Euro or American centred.”
Masunungure said the party had to try and manage the internal governance of its affairs.
“The MDC has had its problems, especially managing its internal affairs. They seem to have copied the very things that they have accused Zanu PF of doing, among them the issue of authoritarianism that resulted in the October 2005 split. I hope that as they celebrate they will take into account where they went wrong.”
By Wongai Zhangazha