Make-or-break Congress will determine our future


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HARARE – The fate of Zimbabwe will be riding on the congress this weekend. If those attending vote in a leadership of cronies of “kitchen cabinet” descent, the party will be condemned to the role of opposition party for the next decade, at least. By contrast, should they elect a dynamic team of creative, courageous and people-minded leaders then the MDC could become the change agent so desperately needed in Zimbabwe.

Over the last two years the party has become moribund by stale ideas and leaders with diverging strategies. Now that the “dove” faction, led by Welshman Ncube, has made a break from the main support base of the party this frees up the hawk-like Morgan Tsvangirai to confront Mugabe.

However, Tsvangirai needs a team with activist credentials, which will impress regional governments with their potential to govern a country. Such a team might look like this:

Morgan Tsvangirai (President) Thoko Khupe (Vice-president), an Ndebele who has the charisma to attract the women, and the leadership qualities to get them onto the streets. Elton Mangoma (Secretary General), a successful businessman with a Master’s Degree in Business Leadership from UNISA. He contested a parliamentary seat against the brutal Didymus Mutasa in the last general election.

Elias Mudzuri (Deputy Secretary General or Organising Secretary), the elected mayor of Harare currently completing a Masters Degree at the Kennedy School of Government. Mudzuri has the political cunning of a hyena and is covered by the skin of a black rhino.

Nelson Chamisa (Youth Secretary) has grown in popularity amongst the youth. With the freedom now available to him as Ncube has left his “command and control” post as Secretary General, Chamisa must be compelled to harness the pent up frustration of the youth.

Roy Bennett (Treasurer) is an icon of resistance for most Zimbabweans regardless of their political persuasion, recently elected as Chairman of Manicaland province. His impeccable track record will give donors confidence.

Isaac Matongo (Chairman) is likely to get re-elected as a founder and given his ability to rouse a crowd. He is an effective speaker at rallies but is not politically astute and has shown selfish tendencies.

Tendai Biti has the legal, political and activist credentials to warrant a post in the top ten of the party. A team such as this would provide the much-needed blend of strategic thinking, courage to resist and charismatic leadership.

The MDC needs to take on a more revolutionary style of politics. Tsvangirai promises, “disobedience within the law” after congress. Six of the above have been incarcerated, which gives them “resistance credentials”.

The MDC lost two golden opportunities in the last 12 months to rally the people against the regime – the stolen general election in March 2005 and the horrific Murambatsvina operation. Congress needs to elect a leadership that will never pass by such opportunities again. The new team will need to have the ability to create sustainable and rolling disobedience out of bread and butter issues.

Tsvangirai has said, “NO” to participating in elections until there is a new constitution and the conditions for free and fair elections are in place. He knows this will not come about without pressure from the people. We all know that Mbeki has abandoned the people of Zimbabwe in favour of retaining a reformed Zanu (PF) government. As a consequence change must come from within the country.

Organisations such as Zvakwana, WOZA and Sokwanele have shown how effective “many-small-actions of resistance” can be in destabilising an already splintered and fractious regime. If a revamped MDC exploited its large membership base, especially the youth and women, along the lines of the above-mentioned pioneers in Zimbabwe resistance movements, change could become a reality.

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