MDC-T must focus on reforms not squabbles

THE MDC-T is preoccupied with squabbling about its latest split proposed amendments to its constitution to trim powers of the secretary-general while consolidating those of the party leader. This comes at a time when there has been a lot criticism on MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai’s style of leadership which has often been described as unilateral and dictatorial.

Candid Comment with Faith Zaba

The clashes among senior party officials over constitutional reforms are likely to escalate infighting and plunge the embattled movement into further turmoil.

The continued bickering about positions does not help the MDC-T as it does not make its leader more effective nor does it mobilise supporters in preparation for the next elections in 2018.
If we were to buy the argument from those pushing for the amendments that it is necessary to whittle down the powers of the office of the secretary-general because the last two — Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti — precipitated internal problems in the party, including the two splits earlier this year, does it then mean the powers of the president, due to his leadership failures during the government of national unity and private life indiscretions, must also be weakened.

MDC-T is twiddling its fingers over a non-issue. If they are not careful, they risk going into polls under the same conditions as in 2000, 2002, 2008 and 2013 which help Zanu PF to win.

Critical for MDC-T is to ensure a conducive environment for credible, free and fair elections in 2018, otherwise another defeat will leave it facing disintegration.

The party should draw lessons from the blunders it made in previous elections. What it needs to do is to restrategise and regenerate if it envisions forming the next government in four years. It should be lobbying for the electoral playing field to be levelled through pushing for reforms encompassing media, security and electoral.

Whittling down powers of the secretary-general will not help MDC-T win the next elections and creating the post of second vice-president adds no value to the party. As has been pointed out by the Electoral Resource Centre (ERC), changes to the electoral framework should be in place by June 2015, at least three years before 2018.

The ERC has called upon electoral authorities to have a defined plan for comprehensive and inclusive electoral reforms which are informed by past electoral practices, while considering input from other stakeholders, including recommendations from regional and domestic election observer groups who monitored the past polls.

Some of the recommendations from the African Union observer mission for the July 31 2013 general elections, which MDC-T should ensure are included in the Electoral Act, include making available the voters’ roll in both electronic and hard copy format 14 days before elections and media reforms.

Both the AU and Sadc observer missions raised concerns over the voter registration, inspection of the voters’ roll and printing of the ballot papers. These are issues that MDC-T should be dealing with instead of concentrating on personal tussles driven by selfish interests. That the party needs regeneration cannot be over-emphasised.

How this renewal could be achieved is up to the party and its members.

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