via MDC turns 14 – DailyNews Live by Fungi Kwaramba 11 September 2013
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is still limping from a heavy election defeat, says his party, turning 14 today, is here to stay and “fight a brutal dictatorship using democratic means.”
Tsvangirai, who polled 34 percent of the presidential election votes in the July 31 harmonised elections, maintains that the polls were rigged and has shrugged off suggestions and insinuations that the labour-backed movement lost the elections because of complacency and the imposition of candidates.
Today, September 11, marks the day when the MDC was formed by a group of students, academics, trade unionists and other civil rights campaigners.
Since its formation, the MDC has blossomed, metamorphosing into a formidable party that has changed the political landscape of the country.
The highlight of the MDC struggle to dislodge President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF in power since 1980 was perhaps in 2008 when Tsvangirai handed Mugabe his first electoral defeat.
He, however, failed to get enough votes to form a government, triggering a presidential election run-off that was derailed by violence, leading eventually to formation of a coalition government in 2009.
At the behest of Sadc, Tsvangirai and Mugabe went on to form a coalition government that salvaged the country from the edge of a precipice, ended runaway inflation and combated medieval diseases such as cholera which were ravaging the country.
That is now history, with the MDC leader now reeling from the party’s heavy defeat in the July 31 elections. He now has to retreat to opposition politics albeit as the leader of a minority party in a Parliament where Zanu PF has the lion’s share of seats.
Notwithstanding the setback, Tsvangirai seems to have taken defeat in his stride, piling the blame on Zanu PF’s rigging “shenanigans”.
On Saturday, to mark the party’s anniversary, Tsvangirai and his team travel to Mutare in Manicaland where the party’s dominance has been turned upside down.
In the July 31 polls, Zanu-PF won 22 National Assembly seats in Manicaland, while MDC only managed four — a huge reversal to the results in 2008 when the MDC won 20 seats with Zanu PF clinching just six.
Apparently keen to banish the ghost and horror of the recent elections, Tsvangirai is holding a post election rally where he is likely to buoy his supporters to keep eyes on the 2018 elections.
“I will be at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare with the MDC family on Saturday for the party’s 14th anniversary celebrations,” Tsvangirai wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.
“The occasion could not have come at a better time as we seriously reflect on the monumental July 31 fraud.”
Critics such as Rejoice Ngwenya say for democracy to flourish in the MDC, there is need for the party’s 61-year-old leader to step aside.
“In terms of effective party democracy, a party leader has a mandate to win elections,” Ngwenya said.
“If this was Australia or England, Tsvangirai would have been booted out in an internal party coup in 2008. If he appreciates political branding beyond simplistic populism and if internal democracy flourishes in he should ‘concede defeat’ and step down as party leader.
“A new leader will bring a new vision and impetus in the struggle against dictatorship.”
But Tsvangirai, who already has the backing of several provinces to retain the party’s presidency come 2016 congress, is looking ahead.
“The mission to pursue and recover the people’s stolen voice remains a priority,” he said.
“The MDC is a national project and no amount of electoral theft, thuggery or persecution will stand in the way of the national agenda for change. For 14 years, the MDC has fought a brutal dictatorship using democratic means and will not relent. We are here to stay.”