Wednesday, September 28, 2005

On the MDC and cattle; a foray into shona

In my native shona we have a proverb, "kwadzinorohwa matumbu ndokwadzinomhanyira" lampooning how foolishly cattle always seem to be running themselves towards danger. Cows will defiantly rush to a river/watering hole with little regard for how many of their kin crocodiles have decimated only because they are thirsty.

I was reminded of this proverb as I looked back on weekend. The Standard last weekend reported that the MDC has decided to field candidates in the now inevitable--greatly loathed senated elections.
"THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it will take part in the Senate polls due to be held before the end of the year, The Standard can reveal.

Professor Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general told The Standard that there were differences between circumstances leading to the Senate elections and the 31 March Parliamentary elections.
"There are fundamental differences between the March Parliamentary elections and the position we are in right now. It is very clear that the national council lifted the suspension on election participation and that position has not changed. The operative resolution of the council is that we are in the elections," Ncube said.

Ncube dismissed claims of divisions within the opposition party adding that having different views over certain issues does not mean that people are divided.

"It is very democratic to have differing views so that we debate and try and convince those with contrary views why we think the other view is better and important. Right now we are encouraging the people to go and register," he said.

By participating in the elections other opposition MPs fear that they might be legitimising the ruling Zanu PF and its policies.

Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC spokesperson said: "There are a lot of things that we do that have been misconstrued as legitimising the government, yet it is not true. Anyone is entitled to arrive at his or her conclusion but the ultimate decision on whether the party should participate or not must come from within the party structures."
As expected, this drew the ire of many within the party. According many within the party, the MDC confirmed they have a foolishness akin to cows by announcing that they are going to contest the senate election which are penned for some time before year's end. Writing for UK based tabloid website, Grace Kwinjeh a reknowed MDC activist laments thus;
"Zanu PF has made its political agenda for the year 2005 clear. It is an agenda that is solely driven by the party’s quest to restore its political hegemony once again. Thus, taking the country back to the pre 1999 scenario. The March 2005 Parliamentary elections which as predicted were callously rigged was the first step in fulfilling this agenda. Zanu PF secured a two thirds Parliamentary majority.

In my considered opinion it is demonstrably foolhardy; to defend the MDC’s continued presence in parliament as having anything to do with ‘defending democratic’ space. What democracy ? What space? MDC’s Parliamentary presence only serves to endorse and legitimize an illegitimate regime.

At face value, it may appear unfair to accuse the MDC of colluding with Zanu PF against the suffering masses, but the political reality is that a dictatorship is a dictatorship, supping with it even in an institution such as parliament makes the MDC guilty by default. Guilty of perpetuating Zanu PF’s evil agenda and its wanton rape of Zimbabwe’s resources. The party is participating in a perceived process of ‘Governance.’ A logical extension of this argument is that even if the MDC legislators never successfully move a motion in parliament the party must still stand satisfied that it is participating in a process of ‘Governance’.

Again the political reality is that every ‘nay’ that the minority MDC legislators vote as against the majority Zanu PF ‘ayes’, must be accepted as part of a legitimate democratic process. Consequently, the fact that the MDC is fighting a losing battle on the legislative front is crystal clear, even to my inebriated Tsunami survivor uncle in Tsonzo, and does not require neither professorial intellect nor political eloquence.

The same goes for the ill informed and unpopular constitutional changes. The MDC must stand accused of being a silent and conveniently sleeping partner in Zanu PF’s constitutional venture. Extending this analogy further, one could even risk an argument that applying the principle of collective responsibility, means that as a willing participant in the legislative agenda of the Fifth Parliament of Zimbabwe the MDC can no longer play it safe and plead innocence.

So when Zanu PF embarks on an unpopular constitutional agenda meant to further entrench its hold onto power with the MDC partaking in that process the MDC is as responsible as Zanu PF for the consequences of such actions. The MDC legislators as at 2000 must be definitively be distinguished from the MDC legislators at 2005. At 2000, the so to speak the fresh faced MDC was a disciple of what some have criticized as the naïve dispossession that the party’s parliamentary presence would as it were ‘bring about change.’ In 2002 the MDC now schooled at the harsh realities of the limitations of the legislature as a tool of change sought to complete the change through the Presidential process. It is now common cause that the limitations of this course of action were subsequently exposed."
Read the rest here.

A few weeks ago yours truly debated this very question from a different perspective; that of an engaged observer to this latest episode in the Zimbabwean odyssey. I opined thus;
"Maybe it's all just a dream and one that is about to turn nightmarish at that for Uncle Bob. At second glance every aspect of the 17th amendment bill furthers the cause of those who want to move beyond a Zimbabwe dominated by one party and one man.

First there's the senate. It looks like a good way to filter out the contributions of the MDC in parliament right? Maybe. This might prove problematic for ZANU-PF on two fronts. First, is the issue of elections. They are gambling that the people will choose them at the polls. That gamble depends on the fallacy that ZANU-PF has endeared themselves to the people since the March elections. Nothing could be further from the truth. So a rather nasty suprise by way of an election defeat is quite tenable. If nothing else, the senate elections will give MDC's hitherto unknown candidates national prominence that will both galvanize the party as a legitimate opposition and advance the MDC's cause on the nation's political agenda.

Second, lets assume ZANU-PF wins all 50 contested senate seats (which is highly unlikely). This would place another 50 ZANU-PF bigwigs in the (tax sponsored) gravy train immune from the harsh realities of life without the national fiscus to dip from. There's potential for internal strife in the party not only over who gets to stand in the elections, but also when those left out realize that they have no other route to power and money. Remember how bitter the battle for the vice presidency raged within the party just a few months ago? With potentially 50 coveted spots things could get really ugly in ZANU-PF."
I have to admit though, the criticism of the MDC for wanting to contest in yet another (rigged) election is warranted. When will they learn that playing politics by ZANU-PF's rule is going to get them nowhere. It is patently clear that ZANU-PF has outmanouvred and out-politicised the MDC in parliament. They are set to continue with more of the same.

I guess it's true, kwadzinorohwa matumbu ndokwadzinomhanyira.

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