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MDC RELOAD: Old wine in new skins

24 Jul 2019 at 15:56hrs | Views
The MDC prides itself as a party of reformists and the keepers of this country's economic keys. Members of the party fantasise and hoodwink the world that without them nothing meaningful will take place in Zimbabwe. The party wants to be seen as bringing new things on the table yet a closer look at these claims tells a different story.

After the MDC Gweru congress in May 2019, that party's leader, Nelson Chamisa blew his trumpet louder than usual telling those who cared to listen that they would soon launch an economic blueprint. All and sundry waited with bated breath thinking that the young man was brewing a game changing document but alas he came up with what people would call nhava izere mhepo (an empty pouch).  The "Roadmap to Legitimacy, Openness and Democracy" (RELOAD) document which the party launched last week turned out to be a damp squib. Nothing was really reloaded in that document.

Why am I dismissing this document as old wine packaged in new wine skins? The MDC has since time immemorial been penning one blueprint or policy document after the other. Their latest offering, RELOAD joins other documents such as Agenda for Real Transformation (ART), Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and the Environment (JUICE), Plan and Environment and Credible Election (PEACE) and A Sustainable and Modernisation Agenda for Real Transformation (SMART) on the party's book cabinet.
Their talking points are tackled in security sector, electoral and media reforms; mining revenues, industrial cluster development, strategic infrastructure investment, social contract and security of tenure on agricultural land. Most of their sections are poorly presented as they have a lot of inconsistencies, confusion and poor analysis which reflects badly on the so called party of excellence.

In 2015, MDC Co-vice president, Tendai Biti while he was leading his short lived People's Democratic Party (PDP) crafted a policy document that he called Agenda for the Restoration and Rehabilitation of Electoral Sustainability (ARREST). In this document he called for all forms of reforms, proposed a dialogue and implementation of the 2013 Constitution to the latter and spirit.

During December 2015 the late MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai realised that the opposition political parties in Zimbabwe were too weak to dethrone ZANU PF at the polls as individual players therefore, he called for a pact. The resultant pact was called National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA). NERA's rallying point was institution of electoral reforms; hence, their motto was "No reforms no elections". The same electoral reforms that they were calling for are the same things they had been hammering home about for years yet during the GNU days they never did anything to push for any reforms. Chamisa in his own words admitted that "We sat for 5 years in GNU, ate and did nothing".

The MDC has perfected the art of repackaging old issues and repeating them in new documents. After closely scrutinising them one will realise that they are the same material and issues crafted differently. In some cases whole sections are uplifted from old documents, dusted off a little and given a little makeup to make it more appealing to the intended recipients.

The MDC in these documents makes rhetoric calls for electoral reforms ahead of each and every election edition in the country. During each election the party alleges that the electoral playing field is not even and wants the Electoral Act amended. They have always harboured the opinion that ZANU PF gets an upper hand owing to the present composition of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). This is just wishful thinking by the opposition because ZANU PF goes down to the most remote areas such as Muzarabani and talk to the electorate and in the process sells viable projects that transform society's livelihoods which sharply contrasts with Chamisa's utopian promises of bullet trains and rural airports that he preaches at rallies.

Election management has attracted so much attention of the MDC. In ARREST (Cannon F) and PEACE documents, the opposition calls for the revamping of the manner in which elections are handled by ZEC. On the contrary, the SADC and African Union (AU) as the regional and continental bodies respectively have endorsed the country's 2018 elections as free and fair with the opposition enjoying more democratic space than before.

Another aspect, which the MDC makes noise about is the ZEC Secretariat which it claims is staffed by former security sector personnel mainly army members. The party, therefore, called for what it terms "the demilitarisation of ZEC" thinking that this would make their party win elections. The world over there is nothing sinister with Government institutions employing former security personnel among their staff. The American government, which the opposition worships, is replete with examples of such set up.

Constitutionalism has also been repeated in almost every document. The MDC which has a number of lawyers among its senior ranks has been calling for the re-alignment of existing enabling Acts to the 2013 Constitution. SMART (Chapter 2) and RELOAD (Anchor B) indicate that the MDC wants the implementation of political, legal and institutional reforms to be implemented as soon as possible.  

The MDC is of the opinion that ZANU PF wins elections on the backdrop of enjoying support from the security sector. Security sector reforms which the MDC is demanding are meant to call for an apolitical security sector. Time and again the MDC has failed to prove the alleged bias by the security sector. It cannot event identify the so called security sector serving and retired personnel which it claims to be part of the ZEC secretariat.

Since their formative days, the MDC has always been complaining about corruption in Government in particular questioning about the sale of diamonds. ARREST paragraph 58 (V) and SMART Section 2.10 and RELOAD Anchor B paragraph 35 subsection xix talks to the same issue under combating corruption. Apparently the MDC-dominated local authorities have been fingered in corruption activities such as unnecessary workshops meant to siphon council funds and illegal land deals without following laid down procedures.

Traditional leaders who are the custodians of the country's inheritance and they are the ones who interface with the majority of people on a daily basis are not spared either. Like the security sector, the MDC wants the traditional leaders to be apolitical, but surprisingly the same party courts the same people to support its cause. In 2017 Tsvangirai embarked on a whirl wind tour of the country's provinces meeting his party members and specifically targeting traditional leaders in a bid to lure them to his party.

That party demanded access to public media during elections. The MDC has been singing this song since 2000. The MDC enjoys wide coverage from the private media and pirate radio stations, privileges which ZANU PF does not enjoy. In 2008, the MDC received coverage from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) during their infamous "Morgan is more" adverts. ZBC veteran reporter, Reuben Barwe once recalled how he was attacked by MDC thugs while covering the launch of the MDC back in 1999. The MDC thinks that elections are won in the media without talking directly to the electorate.

Government of National Unity (GNU) seems to be shaping the MDC narrative in everything that the party does. After tasting how good it was to be part and parcel of Government, the MDC still wanted more. Biti in his ARREST document under Cannon B proposed the National Transitional Authority (NTA). The NTA was also propagated in the RELOAD document under Section C, implementation mechanism as the National Transitional Mechanism (NTM). By hook or crook, the MDC wants to walk again in the corridors of power, hence, push for the NTM. This is the reason why the MDC only wants to have dialogue on a one on one basis with ZANU PF pushing aside other members of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD).

All that the MDC has been doing was just going round and round in circles regurgitating policy documents and blueprints which failed to win the party elections in the past twenty years. That party has no direction or ideology of its own and only waits for a signal from their Western handlers which, in most cases, would be the very opposite of what they are hyping about.

Source - Elijah Chihota
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