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MDC Alienating Sympathisers

THE MDC is fast alienating its supporters which will have serious implications for the party and the country as a whole. Criticising the Government of National Unity is now deemed to be unpatriotic in certain sections.

Unlike what happened soon after Zimbabwe’s Independence in 1980, it is important for intellectuals, academics, journalists and other opinion makers to subject Morgan Tsvangirai’s role in the GNU to critical scrutiny and avoid falling into another 29-year dictatorship nightmare.

There is so much excitement in media circles about Morgan Tsvangirai’s first overseas trip as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe’s coalition government intended to “revive contact with EU and US officials after Zimbabwe’s absence for seven years”.
That’s rather surprising because Zimbabwe has never severed diplomatic relations with the US despite the hostile attacks on US Ambassador James McGee by the Herald.
However, what is seriously lacking in the coalition government and indeed in the delegation is the element of inclusiveness by excluding people like Dumiso Dabengwa, Simba Makoni, Wellington Chibebe and Lovemore Madhuku. They would have more to contribute than some of the people in the premier’s delegation.
If it turns out that Tsvangirai has been sent by Mugabe, or volunteered to go and plead for the lifting of sanctions while the reasons for their imposition have not yet been fully addressed, then the MDC could be fast alienating its sympathisers at home and abroad. Some of the decisions of the MDC are quite debatable and as a democratic movement it is only right to subject some of its actions to scrutiny.
On June 2, MDC Finance minister Tendai Biti reportedly slammed the West over sanctions saying: “The West is being unscientific and ahistorical.” MDC leaders may sooner rather than later realise that what they say may be misconstrued following a response by the British Embassy to a Herald article which claimed the UK government had to “airlift” destitute British pensioners from Zimbabwe because Western sanctions had destroyed the economy.  The Embassy said it was disappointed that the Herald continues to “peddle gross distortions and misinformation”.
I agree with Jethro Mpofu, “Opposition blunders keeping Mugabe in power” (www.zimonline.co.za June 4 2009) when he says:
“It must embarrass all people who respect democracy in the world, especially the political opposition in Zimbabwe that despite the many mass graves of Gukurahundi, the ruins of Murambatsvina, a collapsed education and health delivery system, an economy on life support and a starved population of hard–working Zimbabweans, Mugabe remains at State House and answers to the title of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe”.
The reasons given by the MDC for not contesting the re-appointment of 31 permanent secretaries by Robert Mugabe on May 20 were far from convincing at a time when Zimbabwe continues to lose its best brains to other countries in search of jobs, and others remain in the diaspora. 
Websites for ministries of Foreign Affairs, Labour, Public Service and Welfare, Home Affairs, Higher Education, Justice, Defence and Health are all not up to date and don’t reflect the new dispensation and portray a very bad image. The Foreign Affairs website was last updated on November 12 2008 and according to it the next presidential election will be on March 29 2008, while upcoming events include the Comesa Summit from November 25 to December 8 2008. The Home Affairs website has only one minister, Kembo Mohadi.
The MDC’s 9th Conference called on the controversial Attorney–General Johannes Tomana and the embattled governor of the Reserve Bank Gideon Gono to “resign forthwith” in the national interest. As if to cave in to such threats, Finance minister Tendai Biti later said he had “ring-fenced” Gono and Western countries could no longer use him as an excuse for withholding critical aid, meaning that Gono is going nowhere.
The MDC’s commitment to Press freedom needs to go beyond a resolution for media reform and for the Herald and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation to reform and report equally, fairly and consistently in line with the GPA. There is no credible reason why the MDC does not state categorically its opposition to oppressive laws like Aippa, Posa and others. Similarly, why should newspapers like The Zimbabwean, which is meant to balance the reporting of news back home, be charged 50% duty?
It can be argued that the MDC is alienating its sympathisers by commission and omission.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri

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