MDC-N: shooting itself in the foot

Recent reports that the MDC-N party is preparing to discipline six of its seven elected MPs are unfortunate for that party since this will be tantamount to shooting itself in the foot.

Accusations that the MPs are neglecting their party functions and activities in preference for those of the MDC-T, whether founded or not, paint the picture of a divided house which is bound to fall in the end.

Among the accused is the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Nomalanga Khumalo, who is said to be getting too close to MDC-T for comfort. The party needs to be advised that the times are bad; it is not wise to start a witch-hunt in the party at a time like this. It is very likely that any of the members who may be found guilty of negating the party and its leadership will defect to MDC-T at the drop of a hat. This will not be healthy for the small party.

With Zimbabwe’s next elections likely to be held mid-2012 or a little later, the MDC-N members threatened with disciplinary action are advised to keep their cool and avoid openly defecting to MDC-T prematurely. If they do this they are likely to lose their parliamentary seats long before elections are due.

They could, however, defect from the moribund party as soon as elections are called. In the meantime they need to alert the MDC-T leadership of their intention to defect to that party when the time comes. I strongly suspect that some of them have already done this. The MDC-N leadership needs to work hard to keep their party intact, at least while the GPA and GNU are still operational.

It is very unlikely that they will win any seats in the next elections. This is the best time to begin strategizing for a return to the mother party, MDC-T. It is also very unlikely that the other small political parties such as Zapu, PF-Zapu and the MKD will win any seats come next elections. The best these parties could do is to form a broad alliance of some sort and hope to win a few seats in Parliament. Zanu (PF) is bound to lose the next election by a huge margin and is likely to become the official opposition party.

But let us get back to the goings on in the MDC-N. One of the saddest political developments that can be observed in Zimbabwe is the impact that Zanu (PF) political practices have had on some of our more democratic parties.

It is the Zanu (PF) practice to punish those who hold diverse views from those of the leadership by sending them through the disciplinary committee, and if found guilty they are expelled or suspended from the party for five years. This is not necessarily the best practice for democratic political parties. There should be plenty of room in a democratic political party for diversity and differences of opinions.

Issues should be discussed without suspicions or the fear of defection. Disagreements should be handled in a manner that strengthens instead of weaken the party. I do not have to like you in order to work with you for a common cause. Further, it is always best to talk to members of the party and try and persuade them to comply with the organisation’s policies and positions rather than view them as traitors and sell-outs.

The Zanu (PF) way is disastrous. That is why we have always said that party contains the seeds of its own destruction. We would have hoped that the more democratic political parties would be more accommodating and more tolerant of diversity among members.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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