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It’s official: The MDC has sold out

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In a statement issued following a meeting of the National Executive of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) today, Morgan Tsvangirai announced that his party has agreed to form an inclusive government with Zanu PF and the other MDC, led by Arthur Mutambara.

This agreement has felt increasingly inevitable since the SADC summit communiqué earlier this week. If things go according to the SADC timetable, Parliament will debate Constitutional Amendment 19 this coming week, and Tsvangirai will be sworn in as Prime Minister 11 February.

The sky tonight is, fittingly, dark and stormy. As the finalisation of this deal has crept inexorably closer this week, my emotions have also been dark and depressed. It’s hard to articulate how utterly disheartening this agreement is. Reflecting tonight, I thought that my heart has just taken the last break it can take.

This deal is entirely detestable. In its statement today the MDC said this didn’t mean it was giving up the struggle, just taking it to a different arena. But it’s hard to imagine that the party will have much success fighting for true democracy inside a flawed government, when it has come to such little effect outside it. A friend of mine yesterday said he’d heard this deal likened to putting on a dirty shirt. I said it’s more like putting on a dirty condom – smelly, sticky, damp, diseased and distasteful.

Admittedly, I don’t know what other the option the MDC had. A different party – one which was more Movement than Party might well have had different cards to play. But the MDC lacks the capacity to lead any sort of civil disobedience or “make the country ungovernable” movement, which might have resulted in a different outcome. Instead, the MDC has tended towards negotiations and legal challenges and contesting undemocratic elections. This strategy has left it high and dry at this most recent negotiating table.

Yesterday, Acting Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa, himself a snake of a man, announced the 2009 Budget Proposal – which sees the Zimbabwe economy increasingly dollarised. City councils, taxation, plus local goods are to be sold in forex, not in Zimbabwe dollars. How are Zimbabweans meant to survive the latest economic and political onslaught? The future is looking bleak.

11 comments to “It’s official: The MDC has sold out”

  1. Comment by It’s official: The MDC has sold out:

    [...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptIn a statement issued following a meeting of the National Executive of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) today, Morgan Tsvangirai announced that his party has agreed to form an inclusive government with Zanu PF and the other MDC, led by Arthur Mutambara.This agreement has felt increasingly inevitable since the SADC summit communiqué earlier this week. If things go according to the SADC timetable, Parliament will debate Constitutional Amendment 19 this coming week, and Tsvangirai will be s [...]

  2. Comment by nzori:

    Mr Author it seems as if you are not aware of the authority SADC has if tsvangirai had refused to join he would have lost any bargaining cheap to any regional country

  3. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Desperately seeking: A bold, new approach:

    [...] government,” and about the notion that that MDC had no choice – that it couldn’t risk “defying SADC,” that it had to agree to the terms of the 27 January SADC [...]

  4. Comment by Roger:

    Amanda, I think you are reading this completely wrongly! The MDC hasn’t “sold out”. Do you really think that what the MDC has agreed to now is no different from what they were refusing to go along with a few months ago? Did you read Chikane’s report on last week’s meeting? .

    Reading between the lines, it seems clear to me that SADC has put more pressure on Mugabe. The priotitzing of the formation of the JOMIC is an important difference. Now the implementation of (desirable aspects of) the GPA will be carried out by a committee of 4 ZANU(PF) and 8 MDC, supported by SADC and the AU. Do you not see any hope in that? And already they have been actively dealing with the question of the appointments of the RBZ governor and the A-G. Don’t forget that ZANU(PF) does not have a majority in Parliament. They cannot even push through their own budget. They are the minority in this “deal”. They are desperate to retain their power and control, but they won’t be able to do it.

    Realistically, there is no way that any sort of civil disobedience can take place at present. ZANU(PF) (as the de facto government without this agreement, as Chikane said) would arrest any MDC MPs suggesting such a thing. As we know, they even arrest civil society activists who don’t suggest such a thing! Remember that Tsvanigirai and his colleagues were beaten up by the police once before. Why would they need to risk that again when there is absolutely no likelihood that the people will rise up to support them?

    Removing a violent dictatorship through peaceful democratic means is extremely difficult. As you admit, there are no other options. The people of Zimbabwe need to support the good that can come out of this “inclusive government” and do what they can to block anything bad that appears to come from it. We need to move on and work to get the country out of the mess that ZANU(PF) has got us into. This agreement is nothing like that between ZANU(PF) and ZAPU: there are no parallels with that. Let’s give the MDC at least some time to show how they can use their involvement in government in a positive way, and let’s help them ease the ZANU(PF) old guard out at the same time.

  5. Comment by Amanda Atwood:

    Thanks Roger. This is certainly a case where I’d love to be wrong. Unfortuntaely, you put your finger on it – I’m out of hope. I did read Chikane’s report, and it felt more like a whitewashing job than anything of substance. One thing that stood out for me was him saying: “The people of Zimbabwe agreed on an inclusive government and they determined how it should be constituted.” When did we agree to that? When was the referendum on an inclusive government? When was the free, fair, open, intimidation-free consultative proceess that came to that conclusion? I agree with you that civil disobedience isn’t an option here and now. But with this week’s deal, I think our problems are still a long way from being solved.

  6. Comment by Roger:

    Yes, Amanda, I know we didn’t specifically agree on an inclusive government. What he says that is correct, though, is that we do have a situation in which no one party can get anything though parliament wihout the support of another. We, the people, therefore have to accept either some form of coalition or another election. We’ve probably tacitly accepted the former, as we know from the experience of the presidential run-off that another election is not an option under the present de facto government.

    It’s arguable whether the MDC should have held out to get further concessions from ZANU(PF), allowing the situation in the country to deteriorate further. Whatever, there would always come a time when brinkmanship would have to come to an end. That’s where we are now. I’m sad to hear you’re out of hope. Now is the time we need you most! Civil society has an opportunity to engage with parties in government whose agreement includes phrases of principle such as “to work together in a manner which guarantees the full implementation and realisation of the right to freedom of association and assembly”, “the Parties have agreed that there should be free political activity throughout Zimbabwe within the ambit of the law in which all political parties are able to propagate their views and canvass for support, free of harassment and intimidation” and “that the public and private media shall refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or that unfairly undermines political parties and other organisations”, etc.

    I am, quite honestly, very worried by an apparent acceptance on the part of people that the agreement means an inevitable perpetuation of the unopposed rule of ZANU(PF) and that we should all resign oureselve to that and give up now. Why? It doesn’t have to be like that! Look at that agreement again. Demand the things that we should expect from it. Lobby the MDC MPs – even the ZANU(PF) ones, if you feel up to it! – to deliver on it. Now is NOT the time to give up hope!

  7. Comment by Upenyu Mukuhlani:

    Amanda I am stunned by your thinking and you accusation that MDC has sold. It would be good if I would remind you that the MDC council has a mandate from its membership to make decision on their behalf. They need not hold a referendum on every decision they less they become useless I think you should reflect on what would have been better option for Zimbabwe. I think you’re quite a self centred person if not selfish. These guys did what was best at the time remember Zimbabwe had been without a formal government since February last year. It would be misguided to think that such a scenario should have continued unresolved for ever.

    I think if you feel there is another meaningful route to take share it with others. Civil disobedience does not work it failed in Kenya despite the death of close to 2000 souls. Kibak is still at the helm in fact the public sector expenditure for Kenya is worse than it was before the violence which means the ordinary person’s life has been reduced to abject poverty.

    At the point in time it is productive to not waste time and think about what could not have or could have been but to work with both MDC and ZANU PF to ensure they are accountable to us. I agree with Roger’s line of thinking. I like American they speak on part lines during elections and on American interest there after I think it would be productive if we put the Zimbabwean agenda as our priority whatever you political persuasion. The agenda is quite clear economic recovery and promotion of democracy

  8. Comment by Sophie Zvapera:

    I agree that this agreement is not perfect but I do not see it as a used condom because it is an effort to bring respite to the suffering population of Zimbabwe. I agree that the MDC is taking the struggle to a certain level and a different platform altogether as compared to having Tsvangirai fighting the struggle from exile while the generalty of his supporters are suffering beyond description back home. The MDC has decided to fight Mugabe from within while trying to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis from within. I wonder how many people had to die needlessly from this man made disaster before someone said it is enough. And let us not fool ourselves by expecting that Mugabe must be the one to concede because if he killed more than 20 000 people through Gukurahundi what is 3000 or so. He has gone beyond caring so the MDC here took this position to avoid the continued suffering of the people and those who advocate for mobilisation can they tell us how to mobilise a cholera, HIV/AIDS and totally starved nation into a massive resistance movement?

    There are a lot of things that the MDC can do to further advance its goals. Top most is to come upwith a new constitution is 18 months, do a referendum and call for elections under a new constitution. The option to walk out is still there for the MDC so they can walk out if they see that it is not workable. This is the only hope for Zimbabwe to move forward so far and judging by the response outside Harvest House on fri 30 Jan the common man and woman on the streets do not believe this option is a used condom. They are happy that at least someone from the political leadership has decided to take the people’s interest forward instead of fighting for political positions to the wire at the back of the suffering masses.

  9. Comment by Regis:

    I think you are naive to think that the people of Zimbabwe have the guts to have or make the country ungovernable. We are all leaders in our own right and we must never make the mistake that Tsvangirai and other represent the totality of leadership and therefore they only must show leadership in making the country ungovernable or plan insurrections. As leaders we have relied a lot on afew brave women and men who have broughts us to where we are right now.

    Secondly civil society always lacks the capacity to butress the position of MDC in the struggle to make Zimbabwe democratic. Civil society in a so called Peoples’ Connvention just before the last Parliamentary and Presidential elections sat on the fence and would not support the elections indicating that the MDC had no chance and was participating in flawed elections under a f;awed constitution that is undemocratic. Once the MDC suprised civil society, all and sundry CSOs begun to demand to be part of the talks, of a process that you had in the first place condemned and aid was not workable. Civil society further called the whole negotiations not representative of stakeholders in Zimbabwe. You cannot have your cake and eat it.

    instead of mourning why cannot civil society begin to demand that the GNU operate in certain ways, agree on a minimum plan of action around what has to happen in local givernment, health , media and the security forces. Go and see Tsvangirai and the MDC, demand that you be consulted genuinely on how the country will be run, work out an alliance like that between COSATU/ANC/SACP. we need to see ZCTU and NCA (after all where did MDC come from) being part of an alliance with MDC that will stregthen Tsvangirai’s hand in the GNU. Unfortunately CSO cannot be creative and innovative to see how to be part of the politics in this new set up. How the CSOs help project the power that MDC now has, the fact that Mugabe despite saying he was the winner in his one person election he still had to negotiate with the so called “MDC losers” and despite being spineless SADC has had no choice but to entertain MDC. It is not by coincidence that the biggest spontaneous demonstration took place outside Harvest House to await the decision of the MDC National Council. Can the ZCTU or NCA muster even a fraction of that crowd . I doubt it. One thing that the MDC has taught us is how to organise and mobilise in very difficult circumstances without having an exiled force or support. What the MDC needs now is support on how to further refine this and finally bring Mugabe to his knees by delivering and bringing out the people when he starts to play up and I mean literally bring in the masses of people with Tsvangirai and others being very visible at the head -and as the CSO has to be part of the people -and begin to show leadership in exerting extreme pressure on the MDC and more so then on Mugabe to begin to be a the People’s Government. if you do not then the MDC will be a sell out and it can only be our faulty after all we voted overwhelmingly for Tsvangirai and the MDC- but the struggle is not about casting the vote – this is where the CSOs have to come in and i am afraid Amanda you have not exactly illuminated me or the rest of Zimbabwe about how we can move forward.

  10. Comment by Leonard:

    Emotions aside, it can be clearly seen that the qn that Amanda’s concerns and the responses they provoke is; did the MDC sell out? Sell-out here might mean, for the man in the street thus, abandoning a collective cause in return for personal or sectorial returns. Now is this wat the MDC did when it decided to join the Inclusive govt?

    Within its stregnth and well-documented limitations, the MDC has over the years taken on Zanu PF head on with the massive support of the Zimbabwean majority – in and outside Zimbabwe. MDC achievements and failures litters their journey since formation and can be a subject of fierce debate sometime somewhere. Wat is not debatable though is their emphatic non-violent victory in the ballot box early last year. It is from here I feel we need to address Amanda and other concerned Zimbabwean’s question. Did MDC sell-out?

    See in life, moreso politics, everything centres on timing. The right move, at the right time, right place. The MDC would like to make you believe they joined the Inclusive govt to end the people’s suffering. Of course you will not believe them. The MDC’s timing in joining the inclusive at the time they did was informed by personal, party and the people’s interests.

    Wat I want to share with Amanda and other readers are other salient factors contributory to this decision. Lets put ourselves in MT’s shoes. The SADC factor has been exhausted above so I’ll get into the other factors that makes MTs decision politically prudent for him, his party and the struggle of ridding Zimbabwe of this mafia called ZANU PF.

    In the background of the SADC factor is a rainy season quiet “promising” as far as ensuring plates of sadza on the tables of the ZANU fearing electorate. Wat if the dollarisation process gets African support and becomes a success? In the likely event we have a good harvest and the dollarisation stabilies things in Zim, MT will have to battle with the demon of relevancy just as Mugabe has had sleepless years with the demon of legitimacy.

    So MT enters the inclusive govt, wat does this achieve?
    - It places him out of direct conflict with SADC.
    - It puts him on the crest of any possible economic revival of Zimbabwe.
    - It placates hardliners like Biti who wants to scattle the talks so they can oust MT at the next Congress.
    - It gives him an opportunity to make friends within the system to understand more its operations. Information and alliances are invaluable resources in any struggle.
    -In the event of a rally or party meeting, police harassment can be checked.
    - It gives him the opportunity to access previously no-go Zanu Pf areas.
    - It creates a tricky situation for state media – previously abused to charn out anti-MT propaganda allowing for time to shed off the Western puppet tag.
    - Since Mugabe’s legitimacy hinges on the agreement, it puts pressure on Zanu to make sure the agreement works meaning further concessions by ZANU PF.
    - It creates a picture of a mature politician in the eyes of many. A mature politician desperate to give peace and prosperity a chance to Zimbabwe even with a party that does not even trust itself like ZANU PF.
    - He can walk out of the govt any minute later and say, see – we tried. But as you all know, Zanu Pf are still ZANU PF! They have done or not done this and this – true or false and gets the sympathy and respect of many. And SADC, AU and UN can no longer force him into bed with ZANU PF anymore. The resultant position will be beyond ZANU PF or SADC. Something ZANU PF in their heart of hearts dreads.

    So has MT sold out? I believe as far as the ultimate goal of saving Zimbabwe and even Zanu Pf from itself MT is still on track. MT has taken the struggle in terrains even ZANU PF agrees makes them vulnerable.

    The Inclusive govt is a set back to ZANU PF’s myth of invisibility to the traumatised rural electorate. Its highlight being the saluting of the Prime Minister by the security bosses famed for “We will never salute anyone….(Tsvangirayi).

    The Incusive govt is testimony that once again Mugabe has out-manuvoured his party members and sacrificied his party for his personal political survival. For me it is he who has sold out for he is the one whose party is coming out the biggest loser in the collective picture. It is ZANU PF which will continue to lose during the life of the Inclusive government.

    For once, I think MT has check-mated his advesaries. Whether by wit or by chance many would not care. The struggle is nw in Zanu PF’s sitting room. Any move will break something once owned by Zanu PF. I think you will agree Amanda.

  11. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Optimists wanted:

    [...] an effort heed the advice of many of the people who have commented on my MDC sell outs blog, I’ve been reading up about what others have to say about MDC-T’s decision to join this new [...]