‘Mugabe, Zanu-PF, your days are numbered’

BY MARTINE STEMERICK Roy Bennett, the newly elected provincial leader for Manicaland, rejects the MDC power struggles as a distraction from the real issues facing the people of Zimbabwe. "The leadership wrangles and power positioning . . . have confused the grass roots: they have no understandi

ng of it,” he said in a recent interview.

Dismissing council and other elections as a smoke screen that serve only to give Mugabe’s regime the appearance of democratic authority, Bennett said bluntly: “The sentiment of the people of Zimbabwe is that there are no more elections. There’s no time to play games with a dictatorial, oppressive, human-rights abusive government.

“What are we doing by getting into elections with them, or talking with them, or negotiating with them? This year is a time for action. It’s a time for the MDC to consolidate, to show its power by people power, and show Mugabe and Zanu (PF) that their days are numbered. We will only ever go back into elections when the process is free and fair, when there is a democratic dispensation, and when there is a proper constitution in place.”

Bennett emphasised that he could only speak for Manicaland, “where I was personally involved. After that Congress, there was a total air of vibrancy in Manicaland. People are ready to move. They are expectant. They are waiting to get involved, they are waiting to strategize, and they are waiting to take this regime head on. People are no longer worried about being arrested. They are no longer worried about dying. They want to move their country forward and take possession of their country from the grass roots so that there is good governance and a free market system,” he said.

Asked about the weaknesses and divisions among the MDC, Bennett attributed the infighting among party leaders to Zanu (PF) and CIO infiltration.

“The leadership has been lacking because of the oppressive system Zanu (PF) employs to run the country: the arrests, the sums of money going in and the buying off of people.”

He said the ruling party had used a divide-and-rule strategy for creating havoc in the MDC, facilitated by the Political Parties Finance Act, which allows opposition supporters to be arrested and put into jail.

“Because finances have been coming into the MDC which people have had access to and not been accountable for, the individuals who have benefited from those funds have forgotten about the grassroots. They have forgotten about the people who put them there. They have become all powerful with that funding and formed themselves into a kitchen cabinet, eating that money and forgetting about the people and the purpose of the MDC, which is to lead the country to new governance.”

Bennett agreed with the conclusion of several other commentators that the MDC’s internecine wrangling served only Zanu (PF). He called for the leadership to leave the past behind and come together in unity and unanimity to tackle the real issues that afflict the suffering people of Zimbabwe.

“I believe what is happening now, whether President Tsvangirai has erred or not, whether Welshman Ncube has erred or not, they were given the responsibility by the people of Zimbabwe to lead them. And they must be respected for their positions and they must lead the people.”

Bennett dismissed the notion of hashing and rehashing all of the who-did-what-to-whom quandaries that have divided the party in the last few months.

“We, the people of the MDC, must rally together, forget the individual agendas, forget who has been bad, who has said what, to unite in a common purpose to give the leadership back to the grassroots that put us there and lead us through this period that we are going through now.”

“This is the year that it’s going to happen. In 2006, Zanu (PF) is going! The people are sick and tired. Zanu is finished. The people will restructure, reformulate, reorganize their leadership and we will move forward.”

The MDC must stop gnawing itself to pieces. While the leadership is tying itself in ever more destructive knots, the people at grassroots are saying, “Let’s move! let’s move!'”

“The majority of the people in the MDC have suffered. We’ve suffered and lost. We’ve been beaten. We’ve lost our homes, had family members killed. We want to move forward.” –
Roy Bennett spoke to Violet Gonda of SWRadioAfrica on “The Hot Seat” programme January 10, 2006

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