Who is the real MDC?



MARGIN: 0in 0in 6pt”>After months of bickering, the imminent holding by the two MDC factions of separate congresses marks the final parting of the ways.

As with any divorce, all that remains is the fight over the assets and the heartache of those caught in the middle – in this case the people of Zimbabwe, desperate for leadership and deliverance from their oppressor.

The Tsvangirai-led faction has fired the first salvo in the battle for ownership of the name, symbols and properties by securing trademark rights. Both sides are fighting hard in the numbers game. But which numbers really count – members of parliament, members of the National Council or grassroots support?

The bottom line is: Who has his/her finger on the pulse of the nation’s heartbeat? That is all that really matters.

Welshman Ncube, who led the breakaway, has said the authority of the MDC in between congresses is vested in the National Council. “We are the National Council of the MDC, therefore we are entitled to legitimately claim the name, symbols and assets of the party,” he said.

The Tsvangirai group refutes this. Executive member Eddy Cross said there was no doubt as to who was the real MDC.

“It is long past the time when the breakaway group should form a new political party and decide on its own agenda and programme. Since the split we have held four council meetings, all attended by over two thirds of its membership and four national executive meetings attended by a clear majority quorum. At all these meetings all decisions have been unanimous and have supported the call by the leadership of the Party to boycott the Senate Elections and to support new strategies now being finalized to challenge the Mugabe regime,” said Cross.

In Parliament, it’s a close call. The Ncube group claims 22 MPs out of the 41 MDC legislators, leaving 18 with Tsvangirai and one MP, David Coltart, preferring to remain outside either faction as an arbiter.

“The MDC has no fears about its own position either legal or political and welcomes political competition from any quarter,” asserted Cross.

He also disputed Ncube’s claim that his group was entitled to the Z$8 billion handed over to him by justice minister Patrick Chinamasa in terms of the Political Finances Act, as it had the majority of MPs.

“The truth of the matter is that no decision has been taken as to the eventual beneficiary of the Z$8 billion,” said Cross.

According to the Act, the amount is calculated on the basis of the number of parliamentary seats controlled by various political parties. “The honourable thing to do would be to split the sum accordingly,” said an independent observer. He also noted that the payout seemed to confirm suspicions that Ncube was working hand-in-glove with Zanu (PF).

“Ncube’s camp desperately needs the money to finance its congress this weekend, which is expected to cost Z$20 billion,” he said.

Cross said the congress was nothing but an extended rally of the breakaway group. “They do not even have a valid constitution – this is to be adopted by the meeting this weekend. So the advert carried in the Independent on Friday to the effect that this was the Second MDC National Congress is simply nonsense.”

He said intense lobbying was taking place across the country for the nine senior party leadership posts but it was expected that Tsvangirai would stand unopposed for president.

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