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Cheap Political Points do not Help Nation

THIS is a response to Eddie Cross’s opinion we carried also under the opinion category

THIS is an outrageously false comment about the MDC which bears no relation to the facts.

We in the MDC  want the Global Political Agreement (GPA) implemented urgently and fully.

We fully supported what the region asked for. I personally had a lengthy discussion with President Joseph Kabila’s principal advisor, Ilunga Ngandu, on November 3  impressing on him the need to attend to all of the outstanding issues. My colleagues have done the same.

I have been present in cabinet and know what has been said by all of us there. Arthur Mutambara’s statement made when the disengagement started is a matter of public record. Indeed it was Mutambara who clearly articulated for the first time that the Sadc communiqué issued on January 27 2009 could not be ignored, something Zanu PF was trying to do.

And as for the allegations that the MDC is responsible for the delays since Maputo consider the following:

  • The MDC returned home direct from the Sadc summit meeting held in Maputo, on October 29 while the MDC-T went via South Africa and were not available in Zimbabwe until after the weekend. In the meantime, over the same weekend, MDC negotiators had to leave Zimbabwe to attend a prior engagement, namely the Africa-China Summit, in Sharm-el Sheikh in Egypt.


  • The MDC  came back from Egypt on Monday night November 2 and were available for negotiations on Tuesday, November 3  up until Sunday, November 15. Regrettably, both Zanu PF and MDC-T were not available, primarily because the latter had to attend to the funeral of the late John Nyamande, the MDC-T MP for Makoni West.


  • On Monday, November 16, the MDC negotiators had toattend to government business in Brussels and in Tunis running until Thursday, November 19. When they returned home they were immediately  available for dialogue and they are still available for dialogue. They, in fact, suggested that the negotiators have a retreat to concentrate on the negotiations from Friday, November 20 to Monday, November 23. Regrettably, MDC-T negotiators were not unavailable until Monday, November 23.

The outstanding issues are not MDC-T’s concern alone but those of the MDC and largely of the people of Zimbabwe. Many commentators have expressed concern regarding the MDC’s involvement in the talks and the GPA since July last year.


They have expressed frustration with the fact that the MDC controls the balance of power and bemoan the “proportional-representation system type result” of the March 2008 election which has led to this. They bemoan that a little party like the MDC which only secured some 8% of the vote should exercise this disproportionate power.

The irony is that it is one of the benefits of a proportional representative system that little parties often hold the balance of power and in so-doing prevent the tyranny of the majority.


Zimbabwe has had a Westminster system for so long that it just does not know how to handle a proportional-representation type result which was produced by the Westminster system last year. As we know to our detriment in Zimbabwe during the last 40 years the Westminster system has allowed single parties to dominate parliament and the country, often after obtaining a slim majority, with catastrophic consequences.


But thank God the Westminster system threw up the PR type result last year — otherwise we would never have reached any type of agreement and the country would have continued its slide down towards Somalia.

I understand the frustration felt by some of my political friends in the MDC-T when the MDC  has adopted an independent view in the talks. I have on occasions not agreed myself with some of the stances adopted by my colleagues who have negotiated on behalf of the MDC.


But the fact remains that it has been as a result of those independent stances that deadlock in the talks has often been broken. It has often been a result of those independent stances that Sadc leaders have realised that MDC-T positions have had some merit and they have broken away from slavishly following the Zanu PF line.

One day people will begin to understand the critically important role that the MDC has played since March 2008 in preventing Zimbabwe from being totally destroyed. It has managed to bridge the vast gulf between Zanu PF and MDC-T and in doing so saved the country from complete and utter destruction.


It continues to play this role — and there has been no better illustration than in what has happened in the last few weeks. Aside from the institutional role the MDC plays, Welshman Ncube’s close personal relationship with South African President Jacob Zuma (remember, their children are married to each other which makes Eddie Cross’ assertion that the MDC  is unhappy with what Zuma has pushed through all the more absurd), has played a key role in stiffening Zuma’s position to ensure that the GPA is fully implemented.

The statements issued last week by the MDC-T and my old friend Eddie Cross are divisive. It just does not help our current situation to further divide. Scoring cheap political points does not help our nation. The statements issued last week are not only false but, more seriously, are destructive to the fragile process we are all in. Now is the time for statesmanship and conciliation if we are to move Zimbabwe ahead.

David Coltart is the MDC Senator for Khumalo.


By David Coltart

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