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Wishing you all the best and I hope the next half century are as full and memorable as the last.In case you're wondering, i had to postpone my time off so that's why I'm still in this week.Best wishesMandisaMandisa B Mundawarara
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Please kindly note that the full "Gukurahundi" Report and various related articles are found at www.gukurahundi.blogspot.com
M S Hove.
Comprehensive statement issued by the MDC and important for your Historical Records Sent to the Rev Mufaro Stig Hove (The Radical Soldier) by Bro William Bango (whom I hold in the highest esteem).
M.S.Hove. Cell: 0791463039 RSA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Developing Crisis.
We are a product of unique historical circumstances. Our shared history of injustice and suffering impelled and determined our birth as a force for democracy in Zimbabwe, and our perceived common destiny continues to bind us as we struggle for a deliberately defined and better future.
Throughout the 1990’s the current regime simply abdicated the sacred responsibility to govern. It subverted the popular mandate bestowed by the people and became a regime of cronies superintending the welfare and economic well being of a few at the expense of the majority of Zimbabweans.
The political and economic fortunes of the country were rapidly sliding into political decay and economic collapse. Democracy was being slowly strangled and ultimately gave way to a vicious primitive dictatorship. People’s voices were virtually excluded from the management of public affairs, their own affairs, and a supposedly benevolent dictatorship was substituted for democratic consultation and democratic processes.
The collapsing economy spewed hundreds of thousands of workers into chronic unemployment and poverty in the urban areas, while in the rural areas millions were driven out of the mainstream economy, with their labour yielding only subsistence existence. Levels of poverty never before experienced in this country were fast becoming a permanent condition of existence. Mortality rates plummeted as the health sector collapsed and hospitals became totally dysfunctional; school dropout rates reached alarming levels as people concentrated on the crisis of daily sustenance and public funding dwindled and general infrastructure collapsed leaving vast swaths of the country virtually inaccessible.
For the people, poverty seemed to defeat all possibilities of relief and redress. Hope was replaced by general gloom and despondency. Then, as now, the only exit route, literally was to wait for eventual certain death from hunger, disease or political violence. The entire population was in a trap.
All these woes were not natural catastrophes. They were a deliberately crafted strategy of rulership by the regime. Poverty was deliberately invented and maintained. The central strategic objective of the regime was to create poverty as an instrument to make the people depended on handouts, thereby render them unquestioningly available to the rapacious caprices of unbridled dictatorial rule. As a captured weapon in the hands of the dictatorship, poverty became a tool to ruthlessly enforce political docility.
The People’s Response-- The National Working People’s Convention (NWPC).
In the context of this fast developing national crisis, the broad democratic forces in Zimbabwe—labour, women and youth organizations, civic groups, informal sector workers, students, peasants, the churches etc.,---were impelled by the common dire circumstances to come together under the auspices of The National Working People’s Convention (NWPC), review the situation and chart a path towards a common liveable future. The NWPC’s diagnosis of the crisis yielded a compelling path forward.
The NWPC accurately characterized the manifestations in the socio-economic field, the subversion of the separation of powers, the destruction of democracy and the democratic process, the serial violation of human rights, the general refusal to be accountable and to consult the people on all issues that affected them and a repressive constitution that fails to recognize and guarantee popular sovereignty.
These were correctly identified by the NPWC as simply symptoms of the general malaise. The root cause being a systematic failure of governance. Therefore, only a political solution could lay the basis for resolving the problems confronting the country. The NWPC Agenda for Action was anchored on two fundamental principles: (1) The critical need for a just people’s constitution and (2) crafting of policies that met the basic needs of the people. These fundamental principles, in themselves charted and impelled a path towards a sustainable political and economic dispensation for Zimbabwe .
All the democratic forces that assembled under the banner of the NWPC were under no illusion that about the practical import about the adopted resolutions and policies in general and the Agenda for Action in particular. They were both to be, and could only be implemented by a government that issued from a strong, democratic, popularly driven and organized movement of the people. There could be neither substitutes for nor short cuts to the vehicle that was to deliver social liberation. The people had to deliver their own method for liberation and there was a palpable hostility to any strategy that turned the people’s resolve and movement into handmaidens that sought to reform and sanitize the current dictatorship or be party to any brokered deals designed to achieve the same diabolical result and neutralize the undiluted thrust of the people’s organised interests.
The perceived movement, which was expected to eventually issue a redeeming popular government, was to be a broad people’s movement, strongly wedded to recognising and protecting the independent roles and mandates of the various organisations of the working people. Clearly, this was a firm instruction and unequivocal mandate to for the movement to immediately maintain the operational unity created by the NWPC and launch and sustain the democratic struggle as a broad united front until democracy is achieved.
As we gather here today, some among have got tired and went astray. They have defied the operational parameters defined and mandated by the NWPC. Today they are openly and shamelessly sending signals and overtures to the tyrannical regime for an empty compromise whose sole purpose is the achievement of individual political power that is bereft of people’s interests. Such is the nature of the tragic betrayal that has befallen the democratic forces in Zimbabwe over the past few months.
But the mainstream democratic movement has remained resolute. The MDC has remained loyal and maintained an unwavering commitment to the values and operational strategies charted by the NWPC. As we move on from this historic National Congress let us be more united and craft and implement policies that ensures that our inevitable liberation will be the product of and owned by all the broad democratic forces in Zimbabwe . The road has been long, perilous and difficult, but we shall prevail.
MDC Inaugural Congress.
The NWPC developed a National Agenda and identified how to carry it forward. That delivery vehicle became the MDC. Consequently, the MDC inaugural congress in February 2000, as with its formation in September 1999, was guided by the spirit, values, policies, resolutions and strategies of the NWPC. The party has remained faithful to the peoples’ ideals as expressed in the Agenda for Action by the NPWC. The Inaugural Congress set the stage to launch our blueprint to capture the various interests of the people into a broad programme of action to be implemented by an MDC government.
Over the past six years, we have formulated policies for our Political, Economic and Social Agenda that capture and express the political economic and social interests of the majority of Zimbabweans and we continue to celebrate our unity in diversity as a democratic movement with rich shared values and hopes.
All our policies and activities have consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to replacing the status quo with a popular, legitimate government driven by the people’s democratic force and anchored in a popular constitution. We continue to resist and neutralize all diabolical attempts to trap the movement in a groove of compromise with the dictatorship.
Through these relentless efforts, the MDC has now developed to become a central force on the Zimbabwean political terrain. Our performance in all local and national elections has demonstrated nationally, regionally continentally and indeed internationally that we are now the only dominant democratic political party in Zimbabwe today. We have scored major victories over the past six years and Congress has every reason to proudly recount and openly celebrate them. They are no mean achievements in the midst of tyranny.
THE OPERATIONAL POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT.
The valiant political victories that the movement scored were not won on a peaceful democratic political marketplace. Instead, they were snatched from the jaws of tyranny. We accepted, paid and continue to pay a heavy prize for using democratic methods against a political opponent who is totally contemptuous of, and violent to democracy, democratic processes and methods. For that we have no regrets.
Over the past six years, the party has been subjected to such a violent traumatic experience that today we can proudly claim that few political opposition political parties in modern times have survived the same levels repression as those consistently targeted, with the full might, of the state against the MDC. We have passed the test. Now we must prepare to govern with the resilience, fortitude and determination as have seen us survive the darkest and most dangerous times in the post independence history of this country.
The February 2000 Constitutional Referendum and The June 2000 Parliamentary Elections.
From the time of the formation of the party we were engaged in two battles: one organisational; the other defensive. Between the formation of the party in September 1999 and the Inaugural Congress in February 2000 the party concentrated on the establishment of an effective organizational structure on the ground. Wards, branches, district and provincial structures had to be established and stabilised and the party message had to percolate to the remotest villages.
Tragically, this intended programme of intensive mass mobilization had to be combined with a strategy to defend the nascent party structures and supporters against a ferocious onslaught from the ruling party backed by all state organs at its disposal. It was a clash of two political cultures. We sought to introduce a culture of peace, tolerance and democracy where dictatorship once reigned supreme.
With the party still in its infancy, we found ourselves going into a mobilization battle against the regime sponsored Constitution which was intended to render the dictatorship the natural political order in Zimbabwe . While the process of party building was in progress, we had to simultaneously rally the people of Zimbabwe to reject that gigantic confidence trick that the regime sought to bring under the guise of a “new” Constitution. Immediately after the Constitutional Referendum the party had to embark on the June 2000 parliamentary election campaign.
We operated daily under the sound of hostile gunfire with both the party structures and supporters targeted for destruction, the intention being to kill once and for all the idea of democracy, democratic processes and governance in Zimbabwe . Was remained of democratic culture had to be buried.
State-sponsored violence, the magnitude of which has no parallels in the post independence history of this country was unleashed and enveloped the country, creating such conditions of insecurity that for many of the party supporters, life expectancy began to measured in seconds rather than years.
The entire population was brutalized. Murder, rape, kidnappings and general violence became instruments of governance by the regime. Private property was routinely destroyed and there was a general breakdown of law and order. Law enforcement became heavily politicised along partisan lines and a supposedly protective state became a predatory one. The state became a captured instrument in the hands of the dictatorship. Every state organ and agent was turned into combatants against the MDC. Youth militias and rogue elements of the so-called war veterans marauded the country the country as virtual freebooters with specific instructions to destroy the MDC. It was virtually a war against the people. We had no state or legal protection and we had to craft our own survival methods and strategies. We prevailed.
The referendum campaign laid the context in which the violent political practices and pernicious, malicious and repressive legislation, which define the dictatorship today, were established and refined with each subsequent political campaign.
This hostile and dangerous political environment did not deter the MDC from its central objective of mobilizing the people to reject a proposed constitution that sought to entrench dictatorship and enslave them in perpetuity. The party successfully combined the tasks of party building, mass mobilisation and resistance, to defeat for the first time, and cut back the tentacles of tyranny. The people rejected the regime’s draft constitution.
It was a glorious victory for the brutalised people of Zimbabwe ; but much more significantly, it was a victory for democracy. It laid the foundation upon which future generations will continue to build an enduring democratic culture in our country. For the first time since independence, the people of Zimbabwe realised that with political power in their hands they can defeat injustice and lay a foundation for a future of their choice.
The referendum result was critical because it demonstrated to the entire world that the people of Zimbabwe were solidly behind the MDC and that the regime’s claim to be a people’s government was totally false. The crisis of governance in Zimbabwe became a matter of international public opinion because there was now a clear demonstration that the regime had lost the confidence of the people.
For the party as a whole, the message and lesson learnt is loud and clear: The people of Zimbabwe demand to craft their own constitution. Congress must therefore reaffirm its commitment to realising this objective through the methods demanded by the people.
Emboldened by the result of the February Constitutional Referendum the party prepared for the June 2000 parliamentary elections with courage and determination. Our comprehensive Election Manifesto captured and expressed the broad interests of the people of Zimbabwe for long time neglected by the regime. The Agenda for Action of the NWPC constituted the launching pad of our message. We effectively transmitted a message of hope, relief and national revival to the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe .
We promised a peaceful democratic culture under a people’s constitution; effective and impartial law enforcement; judiciary independence; land reform; general economic recovery, job creation, poverty eradication and freedom from hunger. All these were promises broken by the regime over a period of 20 years of violent misrule.
With a systematic record of failure, neglect and arrogance the regime had no tangible issue to project, no credibility to deliver believable promises. They had neither fresh policy nor old programmes to repackage and sell to the people. The regime stared at certain electoral defeat and the only electoral policy and strategy available was that of violence, which was officially unleashed without let or hindrance.
The violence that was unleashed during the February Constitutional Referendum was intensified and given a new impetus. The regime abandoned any semblance of democracy and legality. State-sponsored violence became the mode of day-to-day governance. Murder, torture, rape and all kinds of human rights violations against MDC members and supporters became regular electoral campaign events, with the perpetrators enjoying open state support and protection.
Groups of war veterans and ruling party youth militias with open state material and political support roamed the length and breath of the country murdering and terrorising innocent people at will. There was a total breakdown of law and order induced and orchestrated by the state and the civil administration of the country had virtually collapsed and replaced by a power structure resembling martial law. The election was conducted in political conditions that resembled a war zone.
Under the guise of the so-called “land reform,” widespread violence sealed off the rural areas from MDC campaigns, and crimes that can only rival fascism and Nazism in scale and wickedness were unleashed against the people. A well planned, systematically implemented and effectively managed infrastructure of violence left virtually no room for free political campaigning.
Our parliamentary candidates and party election workers could not campaign freely and were prime targets of the regime’s violence. Some had to abandon their homes and constituencies, while others operated virtually underground. Hundreds of thousands of our party supporters were physically prevented from casting their votes. At many polling centres, the electoral system had been manipulated to “net-in” only those believed to be ruling party supporters.
Electoral violence was complemented by authoritarian electoral management machinery and administrative dictatorial powers both of which ensured that the election was stolen before even the first vote was cast. There was extensive use of the dictatorial presidential powers in support of regime appointed agencies such as the Election Directorate to achieve the desired fraudulent outcome.
Changes to the electoral laws to bend the process in the regime’s favour were made only a few days before the poll. Handpicked civil servants in the Election Directorate supported by shadowy security agents ran the poll in place of an Independent Electoral Commission. Poll observation was routinely obstructed by the regime with some election observers denied accreditation. Overall, this combination of violence, presidential dictatorial powers and a ferocious bureaucratic stranglehold on the electoral process was meant to totally obliterate the electoral chances of the MDC.
However, in spite of the hostile and dangerous political environment in which we mounted our electoral campaign, the MDC’s poignant message could not be stopped. Through our newly created party structures we were able to disseminate our message to the remotest villages in the country and devise effective strategies to protect members and supporters from the worst excesses the regime’s violence.
The atrocities perpetrated by the regime began to attract widespread international attention and condemnation. Consequently we galvanised the region, the continent, the commonwealth and the entire international community to our democratic cause.
From June 2000 until today, the tyrannical regime has remained on the radar of international attention. Democratic forces through the world have rallied behind us to ensure that the regime justly gets the pariah status that it has brought upon itself. Our internal responses to violence and external outreach programme have been quite effective. Zimbabweans and majority opinion and organisations in the international community rejected both the electoral process and outcome.
However, the election results demonstrated the determination of Zimbabweans to reclaim their freedom. Voter determination and turnout were so strong that the regime’s violence and rigging mechanism could not alter the result in the 57 constituencies that we won; while in 39 other constituencies, evidence of electoral fraud was so overwhelming that the regime had to manipulate the judiciary system to ensure that MDC election petitions received inordinate delays.
By 2005, not a single election petition had received a fair hearing and concluded at the courts and they had to fall by the way side because of fresh parliamentary elections that were due. If the 2000 parliamentary election had been conducted the most basic or rudimentary conditions of freeness and fairness, the MDC would have easily netted in between 90 and 100 seats. We would have started the process to usher in an MDC administration.
The June 2000 parliamentary election was therefore a major victory for the people and the party. In addition to the regime’s defeat at the referendum the parliamentary elections three months later demonstrated once again that the regime had lost the legitimacy to govern and remained in power through the use of force.
The crisis that started with the referendum was exacerbated by the fraudulent elections. >From that time until today the regime has sacrificed every facet of national life and the general welfare of the people of Zimbabwe on the altar of sheer political survival. Dictatorial rule became increasingly totalitarian as the regime sought to control every aspect of society.
During the period between the June 2000 and the March 2002 presidential election the regime waged war against the MDC and all democratic forces in Zimbabwe . Our definition as a civilian law-abiding political party was removed and we were publicly pronounced as enemies of state and therefore targets of the most vicious administrative action. Illegal action on ordinary party supporters by the police, army and security agents occurred with frightening regularity with absolutely no means of legal redress.
MDC leaders and political activists were routinely arrested and brutalized on trumped up charges and political violence continued throughout the country. Human rights violations became a critical instrument of control and governance for the regime. Labour and civic organizations continued to be targets of violent state action and illegal arrests and detentions. Independent media journalist were constantly harassed and arrested and newspapers banned. Church leaders were demonised for speaking out against the regime’s record of violence and torture and women’s organisation were singled out for the most degrading and inhuman treatment. The whole society was held to dictatorial ransom. The objective was to cow down the entire population into submission.
These actions of physical violence and intimidation were complemented by draconian legislation designed to buttress an infrastructure of dictatorship otherwise maintained by brute force. Using its fraudulent majority in the parliament, the regime bulldozed all voices of reason, passed the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) to prescribe and nearly proscribe political activity, close down democratic political discourse, and shrink democratic space. POSA’s sister legislation, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) targeted and muzzled the press to immunize the regime’s corruption and brutalities from public scrutiny. These pernicious pieces of legislation were complemented by the ever-present severe and unwritten methods of tyrannical rule and law enforcement.
The tyrannical political terrain that was created made it virtually impossible for the MDC to function normally as a political party engaged in democratic political activity. It was an attempt to deliberately nudge the MDC into violent precipitous action and thereby provide an excuse for the regime to accuse the party of insurrection, use all the might at its disposal and crush and ban the movement.
We refused to fall into this diabolical trap. In spite of the daily acts of provocation that we endured, we remained committed to peaceful democratic methods of resistance. We launched various acts of peaceful defiance and civil disobedience to confront the regime constantly. The party remained strong and the various democratic mass actions that we engaged in demonstrated to the regime that the people’s quest for their freedom remained undefeated.
The March 2002 Presidential Election.
The state-sponsored violence that was unleashed during the June 2000 parliamentary elections was sustained and intensified during the intervening period leading to the presidential election. The entire state machinery operated virtually like a gigantic violent organ of the ruling party targeting the MDC.
Violence against us became a system of government administration and a command structure stretching from the remotest village up to the ruling party headquarters in Harare ensured the installation and maintanance of an extremely efficient infrastructure of violence, which touched every region, and aspect of national life.
The Defence Act, Police Act and the relevant sections of the Constitution were operationally suspended for the purpose of fighting the MDC. The overall army commander openly called for an insurrection should a legitimately elected MDC government come to power and all the other service chiefs openly associated themselves with that statement. The police and the secret service actively participated in campaigning for the ruling party and some committed openly criminal acts with impunity, and units of the army made frequent forays into the high-density suburbs to brutalise innocent civilians. Law enforcement virtually collapsed and any criminal act against the MDC and in support of the ruling party was officially sanctioned.
A number of our supporters were killed for holding their particular political opinions and the systematic violation of human rights reached a new crescendo. Leaders and party supporters were frequently harassed, arrested and detained under trumped up charges and well laid out ambush plans for the assassination of some members of the leadership miraculously failed. What was supposed to be a democratic inter-party political contest assumed the ominous proportions of the state against an unarmed political party. The volatility of the political situation nationally could only be described as one of low intensity conflict.
This violent situation was complemented by the existence of the newly promulgated draconian anti-democratic laws designed to snuff out all those democratic practices and processes that could not be destroyed by violence alone. POSA criminalized legitimate political debate and the freedom of association and assembly while AIPPA crippled the freedom to disseminate democratic ideas through the press. The movement virtually became a besieged party operating under a barrage of physical and paralegal attacks from the state and the ruling party.
At the height of the electoral campaign three MDC leaders including the party president were hauled before the courts on trumped up charges of treason. This was a deliberate, cynical and vicious attempt to decapitate the party and cause chaos, confusion and hopelessness among the membership. The trial dragged on for over a year and the charges were thrown out of court. Resources, which had been reserved for several party programmes had to be deployed for the defence of the leadership. However, in spite of this attempt to strangle the party, both the leadership and the generality of the members struggled on with the campaign heroically.
The electoral playing field was extremely uneven, tilting in favour of the ruling party. The voters’ roll was chaotic, with many ghost voters while hundreds of thousands of both old and new voters having been left out of the roll. This shambolic nature of the voters was exacerbated by the arbitrary amendment of the citizenship laws, which deprived hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans of their citizenship and the right to vote.
There was no independent electoral body. The Election Directorate and the Registrar-General’s department stuffed by the regime’s nominees and ruling party loyalists, functioned virtually as a rigging mechanism for the government. Military personnel performed key duties in the electoral process and the entire election administration system became militarised and presided over by a civil-military junta. The critical part of the democratic process could neither be expected to be superintended by, nor democracy to issue from such a highly compromised system.
In spite of all the bureaucratic impediments and incessant state-organised violence, Zimbabweans were determined to rid themselves of this tyranny. They turned out in their thousands to cast their vote and the reaction of the state turned the voting process into chaos. In the rural areas some polling stations were closed well ahead of time, while in the urban areas police had to violently intervene using helicopters, teargas and truncheons to stop people from casting their vote.
The result clearly demonstrated the much-anticipated MDC victory. The regime took time to announce the election figures and when they did they issued contradictory figures, which clearly demonstrated serious problems in manipulating an MDC victory into a defeat. Once again, through violence and the abuse of the state apparatus, we were cheated of our victory. Zimbabweans and the bulk of the international community are aware of this victory and the illegitimacy of the present regime.
We took the only route that seemed available to us at the time and petitioned the High Court. The long-drawn out legal battle is still in process and we do not expect any justice from the manipulated judiciary system. However we approached the court because we believed that it would provide us with a platform and opportunity to reveal to Zimbabweans and the international community how the presidential election was stolen.
The Internationalisation of the Zimbabwe Crisis.
Since the February 2000 Constitutional Referendum the focus of the international region and the international community had been trained on the evolving violent political situation in Zimbabwe. Many countries and organisations had been expressing grave concern at the violence deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe. The African Union, Commonwealth, the European Union and the United States of America all made serious attempts to persuade the regime from waging war against defenceless people.
Other organisations such as the International Bar Association and the World Council of Churches added their voices to no avail. The response of the regime was to pour vitriol on any voices of reason, claiming that it had the right of might to treat Zimbabweans any way that pleased it. It banned a selected group of countries, foreign non-governmental organisations and perceived to be critical from entering Zimbabwe and observing the election. The election was to be conducted away from the scrutiny of the international community.
The Commonwealth Conference that took place in Australia shortly before the presidential election failed to persuade the regime to put in place measures to enable the holding of free and fair elections, but ended up setting a troika composed of Nigeria, Australia and South Africa to try to broker a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. A series of diplomatic engagements by the troika yielded virtually nothing, as the regime spurned any and all political formulae meant to dismantle the dictatorship in order to resolve the crisis of governance.
The persuasive efforts of the European Union and the USA could not derail the regime’s efforts to maintain illegitimate political power at any cost. It was the regime’s hostility towards all these international overtures that brought about targeted sanctions by the USA, EU Australia and New Zealand against the regime and its key supporters. The intransigence of the regime created for it conditions. We as a movement had absolutely no hand in that development. We did not and do not control political processes and foreign policy in those countries. The actions of the regime internationalised the crisis because the international community no longer regards human rights violations as a domestic matter, contrary to the regime’s despicable claims.
The Commonwealth troika took the initiative soon after the elections to diffuse the potentially explosive political situation that gripped the nation after the stolen election and called for dialogue between the MDC and ZANU PF. The mandate of the troika was to promote reconciliation between the two political parties in order to create a political environment conducive to addressing the issues of food shortages, economic recovery, restoration of political stability, the rule of law and the conduct of future elections. South Africa and Nigeria were to foster this engagement. The dialogue started in April 2000.
We were committed as a party to exploring all avenues towards resolving the crisis of governance in the country peacefully and we agreed to engage the regime in dialogue in good faith. We chose a team to carry the party’s political position to the talks within the confines of a strict mandate. Our position was that the goal of national dialogue must be based on an unconditional return to legitimacy through a presidential poll that was free and fair under peaceful political conditions. The negotiating team was tasked to demand that before serious dialogue could start the regime had to implement fourteen (14) confidence-building measures that restored a situation of tranquillity conducive to fruitful talks. These included:
1. An immediate stop to the violence that engulfed the nation.
2. An end to all political persecutions and political prosecutions.
3. The immediate disbanding of all ZANU PF militias and immediate cessation of further training.
4. The disarming of all war veterans and guarantees that they will not be rearmed and that they will not be rearmed and that they will not engage in political activities as an armed group operating virtually above the law, but only as ordinary Zimbabwe citizens.
5. An undertaking not to grant amnesty for the perpetrators of murder, rape, torture political violence and other serious crimes.
6. Am immediate stop to on-going human rights violations of all kinds.
7. An end to selective and biased law enforcement. Police should be non-partisan in the execution of their duties.
8. An end to the use of the Central Intelligence Organisation for partisan political activities.
9. A stop to the use of the Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) in civilian policing duties or political activities of any kind.
10. Respect and impartial enforcement of the rule of law.
11. Repeal of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
12. An end to the use of the national broadcaster (ZBC) as a partisan media instrument.
13. A commitment to stop the legislative use of Presidential powers in these areas, undermining the authority of parliament.
14. A commitment to humanitarian ethics of food and relief distribution on grounds of need, without partisan or adverse distinction of ant kind.
It is important that the party is fully aware of the accurate mandate given to the negotiating team. Our position was that before any meaningful talks could be entered into, all these 14 confidence-building measures were to be implemented by the regime in order to create a peaceful political environment conducive to dialogue.
The inter-party dialogue was convened in early April 2002. The opening session was devoted to the reading of opening statements and expressions of political positions, the exchange of position papers and it was agreed to resume a few days later in April 2000 for deliberations on substantive issues. It was anticipated by the facilitators that the talks should be concluded by early May 2002. At the next meeting held on April 10 2002, the inter-party team agreed on the rules of procedure during the deliberations and the agenda for discussions.
The agenda closely mirrored the concerns raised by the MDC in our confidence-building position paper and agreed that there was an urgent need to create conditions for normal political activity. The critical issues agreed to were as follows:
A. Creating conditions for normal political activity.
1. Legitimacy of elections and government.
2. Sovereignty of Zimbabwe.
3. Multipartism in Zimbabwe.
4. Confidence building measures in Zimbabwe.
5. Politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe
6. Constitution and laws of Zimbabwe.
B. Economic development/ recovery plan and mobilisation of resources.
1. Consensus on land reform----Abuja process.
C. Way forward.
1. Adoption of Programme of work.
Both the MDC and ZANU PF had agreed to the above agenda. Our negotiating team went fully prepared to engage in serious discussions. ZANU PF however realised that they had been put in a corner from where there was little hope of escape except to take part in the dialogue seriously and they started looking for flimsy excuses to break away from the talks. Their first salvo was to ask for in an inordinately long and unreasonable adjournment to 13 May 2002 ostensibly because the ministers in their team claimed prior government commitments. Their other reason was that they needed time to prepare for substantive discussions on the agenda items.
ZANU PF maintained a precondition for serious talks to begin. They insisted that the MDC should not take the matter of the rigged election and therefore the illegitimacy of the regime to court. We rejected this condition but indicated that we would consider abandoning the legal route if in our opinion the talks progressed satisfactorily and fruitfully.
There was a court deadline for the submission of our election petition and we continued with our preparations to submit the required court papers. The court deadline for the submission of our election petition fell within the period before the resumption of the talks and our legal team filed the papers on the due date. ZANU PF used the submission of our court papers as an excuse to break the talks and walk away. They argued that the court processes should be exhausted first before dialogue, if need be, could resume. Four years later, the courts have not even begun to hear the main case in our election petition.
It is clear that the regime had no intention from the very beginning to engage in serious political dialogue to resolve the political crisis in the country. They came to the talks under serious internal and external pressure. Internally the rigged election had created high levels of political tension which could have exploded at any time; and externally many countries were piling pressure on the regime to engage the MDC and chart a way forward in resolving the crisis. The regime agreed to the talks to give the appearance talking as a strategy to diffuse both internal and external pressures.
As indicated above, our main election petition has been pending for over four years now and there are no indications that the hearing will take place any time soon. We won the right to examine all election materials pertaining to the presidential poll but the Registrar General engaged in delaying tactics to frustrate us in this exercise and when the materials were finally provided, our examination team realised that the seals on a number of ballot boxes had been tampered with. The election materials could not be of much use to our case. There does not seem to have been any readily available remedy. ZANU PF refused to negotiate, while the state placed bureaucratic obstacles and the courts have since engaged in delaying tactics to hear the case.
The troika’s efforts to broker dialogue between the MDC and ZANU PF were scuttled by the open intransigence of the regime but the dispute remained internationalised. The regime became extremely isolated. Nigeria and South Africa intermittently tried to come up with fresh moves, all systematically spurned by the regime. Ultimately, South Africa decided to go it alone and launched its so-called quiet diplomacy, which turned out to be a ploy to gradually reduce international pressure on the regime and assist it to regain recognition and legitimacy by the back door.
Any action on several international fora by any country or countries; group or groups or progressive individuals to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis immediately receives stiff opposition from South Africa. Efforts by the international community to create effective mechanisms to bring the regime to account for its record of misrule have been systematically blunted by South Africa. It has successfully fought more battles on the international fora to protect the regime than the regime itself could have achieved. In our genuine pursuit to leave no stone unturned in the quest for a peaceful resolution of the crisis, we have met with the South Africans on numerous occasions encountered but achieved no positive outcome. We acme to the conclusion that South Africa was only interested in buying time for the regime and regarded the MDC as the junior partner in the political equation which must do ZANU PF’s bidding. We reject that without any equivocation or apology.
South Africa has arrogated to itself the right to veto any initiatives on Zimbabwe, which are likely to produce a resolution to the crisis that is inimical to the dictatorial interests of the regime. It has become part of the problem rather than engage in honest brokerage to produce a resolution of the crisis that furthers the interests of the region as a whole.
While we are not sealing off contacts with the South African government, we are now extremely sceptical about their sincerity as honest brokers in the crisis. It is up to the South African government to redeem their bona fides as fair players and honest brokers in the Zimbabwe crisis of governance.
Mobilising the People----The June 2003 Mass Action.
After the collapse of the inter-party dialogue we followed the only logical course available to the party. We went back to the people to explain, to strengthen our party organs and structures and generally mobilise them to engage in peaceful mass action to confront a tyrannical and arrogant regime. State sponsored violence did not stop; instead it was intensified as a measure to keep a restless population subdued. Arbitrary arrests, harassment of civilians by soldiers, impartial law enforcement and human rights violations all continued unabated. The population became besieged by a regime bend on extracting legitimacy from the people violently.
This situation of low intensity conflict was exacerbated by the collapse of the economy. In the urban areas, thousands of workers lost their jobs as companies closed. Food shortages became acute as the effect the chaotic “land reform” programme began to take its toll. Chronic neglect in the rural areas and the politicisation of food aid saw millions starving. The effects of HIV/Aids ran riot, as the bankrupt regime failed to provide for both medical and welfare relief. The population was being assaulted from all angles. The people were constantly beleaguered.
It was in this context, where all democratic avenues were closed and no hope for socio-economic relief that we sought to mobilise the people and demonstrate to the regime that the people are not prepared to endure arbitrary rule indefinitely.
The June 2003 peaceful mass action indicated clearly that the MDC was the legitimate authority in the country with the undoubted popular allegiance of the majority of Zimbabwe. Our goal was never to seek a violent confrontation with the regime as claimed by our detractors; instead, we intended to lay bare to the region and the international community that the regime remained in power only through the use force. It was therefore an illegitimate regime. For five solid days the forces of democracy under the leadership of the MDC, brought the country to a standstill and the regime could only react to our initiatives. We resisted all provocation, which the regime intended to use as an excuse for a formal declaration of a state of emergency in order to destroy the party, and our structures remain intact and resilient. We called off the protest when we were satisfied that our objective had been achieved.
The response of the regime was predictable. All the security forces were placed on red alert against a defenceless people embarking on no-violent mass action. A lot of brutalities were committed against unarmed people during the period of the mass action itself. Hundreds of people were arrested, detained and tortured for no preferred or proven charges and released without trial. After the mass action people going about their business peacefully in their neighbourhoods were routinely brutalised by uniformed forces without any recourse to the protection of the law. The regime continued to trample on people’s political and civil liberties with impunity.
The Struggle for the Restoration of Genuine Democratic Elections in Zimbabwe----RESTORE!
In spite of the brutalities associated with the suppression of our mass action, we did not succumb to tyranny. Instead the democratic resistance gained momentum throughout 2003 and 2004. Our democratic resistance was organised around five key democratic demands, which constituted the minimum standards for the restoration of genuine democratic elections in Zimbabwe. We applied constant pressure for the regime to:
1. Restore the rule of law.
2. Restore basic freedoms and rights.
3. Establish an Independent Election Commission.
4. Restore public confidence in the electoral process
5. Restore the Secrecy of the ballot
We believed that these principles, based on the SADC Parliamentary Forum Election Norms and Standards, and are common in most SADC countries, were and are a prerequisite to the exercise of our fundamental human rights and we demanded that the regime legislated them into place before the 2005 parliamentary elections. These demands were not new, instead they run through the entire MDC political programme since the formation of the party.
We mobilised a sustained campaign of domestic and international agitation that was quite effective. Our demands were captured by the SADC region and transformed into a programme of action. SADC formerly adopted the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections in 2004. The party took a principled position that no democratic value could be added to the nation if we took part in future elections under conditions that were tailor-made to rig the poll in ZANU PF’s favour before even the first vote was cast. That step was intended to ensure that the fake legitimacy, which the regime derived from staging a semblance of competitive electoral politics, would be removed.
The regime could no longer violently ignore our demands since the whole regions’ attention was then focussed on the electoral conditions in Zimbabwe ahead of the March 2005 parliamentary elections. For the first time since the June 2000 parliamentary elections, it had to concede at least to some of the demands, which it believed did not seriously undermine its tyrannical rule.
In response to local and regional political pressure, the regime used the parliamentary process to introduce superficial electoral innovations. A so-called independent electoral commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the use of translucent ballot boxes were legislated into force. In addition, the electoral laws were tightened to make extremely difficult to approach the courts seeking a nullification of the election results on the basis of ZANU PF violence, intimidation, denial of food and other human rights violations.
We remain opposed to the manner in which ZEC was introduced, its composition and its preponderant political leanings. It is clearly not an independent body. Our proposal was that the two parties should discuss the composition of an independent electoral commission and then pass on the agreed position to parliament to effect the relevant legislation. That way the neutrality and political independence of the electoral body could be guaranteed and become generally acceptable to all Zimbabweans.
Instead, ZANU PF bulldozed the process and used the parliamentary route so that its fraudulent majority could ensure that both the format and composition of ZEC would safeguard the political interests of the ruling party. The chairman of ZEC and the majority of the commissioners are known ZANU PF activists and can in no way be regarded as independent. In addition, ZEC was not a constitutional body, but remained subservient to the Electorate Directorate and the Electoral Supervisory Commission, all of which functioned openly as ZANU PF organs. It arrived on the political scene as a highly compromised and partisan body and no free and fair elections could be expected from its activities.
The simple introduction of translucent ballot boxes without addressing the critical issues of the political environment in which the electoral contest took place did not improve strengthens the democratic process. Translucent ballot boxes on their own did not stop vote rigging, intimidation and all other irregularities. Overall, the electoral “reforms” were simply cosmetic and designed to ward off regional pressure for an even electoral playing field. These reforms were subverted and ultimately did not significantly change the rules of the electoral game, increase room for political fair play or enhance the democratic process.
We remained resolute that no useful purpose could be served by participating in elections under those conditions. However, the leadership listened to wise counsel from the membership, from our supporters, the region, the continent and the international community. The gist of the advice was to take part in the poll, demonstrate the glaring democratic electoral reform deficit, re-establish and re-affirm the yardstick against which the dictatorship could continue to be evaluated. The arrogant insincerity of the regime had to be exposed.
The March 2005 Parliamentary Election.
We decided to take part in the March 2005 parliamentary elections under protest because it was clear to the party that the electoral playing field was tilted heavily in favour of the ruling party. POSA made the campaign conditions extremely difficult. Through POSA, ZANU PF regulated all our campaign activities through the requirement that the police sanction all political meetings---from rallies to confidential political strategy meetings. Using the police and the security agents, the regime was able to eavesdrop on all our sensitive preparatory political meetings, and this cannot be acceptable in a normal functioning democracy.
The voters’ registration process was haphazard and the voter’s register itself was still grossly inaccurate and thousands of potential voters were still not in the voters register and the newly created ZEC had not started to function. It had neither personnel nor resources. Although the campaign itself witnessed a noticeable reduction in instances of physical violence, the infrastructure of subterranean intimidation and other forms of human rights violations remained quite effective.
In the rural areas, the entire state administrative machinery was transformed from normal functions to serve as a vast ZANU PF intimidation structure. ZANU PF district councillors and chiefs openly intimidated villagers to vote for the ruling party and threatened dire consequences should the opposition win at identified polling stations. In some areas villages suspected of opposition sympathies denied food relief while in other areas the distribution of food relief was withheld pending the outcome of the election and they were threatened with food denial should the MDC win at polling stations in their locality.
Access to food became a critical inimidatory factor in the rural areas. In addition the electoral law ensured that candidates were absolved and immunised from irregularities arising from the activities of their supporters. This meant that unless all the incidences of violence and food denial could be proved to have been perpetrated by the particular ruling party candidate in a given constituency, the opposition party had no form of legal redress.
Party loyalists manned the election process. Known ZANU PF supporters and activists were engaged as returning officers and served in other critical capacities while security agents played a key role in the whole process. This process of swamping the entire election administration machinery with ZANU PF operatives created the context in which vote rigging, including simple ballot stuffing was executed. The counting of the votes was chaotic with contradictory figures being released for some constituencies, while in others the number of votes cast were suspiciously high for a normal election; and the party was not represented at the national vote coordination centre.
There is absolutely no doubt that the vote was rigged given the circumstances in which it was conducted and the heavily biased election administration machinery that conducted the poll. We came back with a reduced representation of 41 seats but in our calculation the party actually won in about 94 constituencies. Consequently the party gathered evidence in about 16 constituencies where rigging was so extensive that an impartial judiciary would have considered them open and shut cases and found for the opposition.
However even the legal route was closed to us. The Electoral Court that the regime set up patently unconstitutional. All our efforts to have the situation rectified were resisted and we felt that we could not subject ourselves to the jurisdiction of an unconstitutional court, which meant that the cases fell by the wayside.
The regime continued with its onslaught on the people. Over the past six years, the regime has been creating poverty rather than wealth and jobs as a means to control and subjugate the people. Now it has come up with a new and more devastating strategy: To eliminate the poor who are the products of its own handiwork. This has been the sole objective of the so-called “Operation Murambatsvina.” Millions of people have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed and lived in the open through the bitter cold months of 2005. What kind of a housing programme is it that starts by destroying people’s homes and rendering them homeless? Operation Murambatsvina was nothing but an open war against the people. It was a matter of the ruling party using the state apparatus to launch a pre-emptive strike and throw into disarray the victims of its on policies before they could organise and seek a democratic answer to their predicament.
We have the support of the democratic international community and we have the answer. That answer is democratic resistance. Let us mobilise all sections of the nation and launch the final bid for our freedom.
The 12 October 2005 Crisis.
We participated in the March 2005 parliamentary election reluctantly because we knew that the electoral terrain would never produce a free and fair expression of the people’s political choice. The electoral process and the result vindicated us. To us the only viable route forward was one of peaceful democratic resistance to compel the regime to yield to the people’s demands for democratic reforms to enable the holding of free and fair elections.
Today, the peaceful democratic resistance route offers itself as the only available route to compel the regime to put in place democratic reforms to usher free and fair elections. Continued participation in fake electoral contests would only serve to strengthen the regime’s propaganda that such elections signified the presence of a vibrant democracy in the country and therefore the regime was legitimate and democratic.
To fortify this false perception, soon after the March 2005 parliamentary election the regime initiated moves to yet again amend the constitution to introduce a senate. In the regime’s propaganda, senate was supposed to signify the “broadening” and “deepening” of democracy through an expansion of parliamentary representation. This was simply a ruse or a cheap trick and the reality was different.
Senate is purely a ZANU PF project, which adds absolutely no value to the resolution of the current crisis of governance facing the nation. It is part and parcel of ZANU PF’s succession plan. The idea was to create a political home or parking slot for the ZANU PF dead wood that can never succeed in an electoral context. In that way, having joined the gravy train, feelings of alienation, exclusion and bitterness would be removed from that group and render them willing to accept whatever succession plans are on offer.
The question that confronted the party was whether or not to participate in the senate elections and strengthen, bring to fruition the ZANU PF project? We had consistently opposed constitutional amendments as false start in, in favour of a people driven constitutional process, as the fundamental step in resolving the crisis of governance in the country.
In addition we had demonstrated in June 2000, March 2002, March 2005 and during countless parliamentary elections that free and fair elections are impossible until an electoral framework fashioned along the lines of our RESTORE document are in place. The question was what value would participation in the senate elections add to people’s struggle for democracy, good governance, the rule of law, economic recovery etc.?
To us the answer was quite clear and eloquent. Absolutely no value at all. Instead participation would have aborted or set back the democratic struggle by many years.
We objected to our being made handmaidens to plans whose aim was to create a dictatorial structure that enabled tyrannical rule to be inherited. Our position on the crisis of governance in this country is quite clear. We are convinced that it is only through a comprehensive and people driven constitution that democracy and good governance in Zimbabwe can ultimately be guaranteed.
Piecemeal or patchwork constitutional, as has been the experience with the current regime over the past 26 years only resulted in the entrenchment of dictatorship and the immense suffering of the people. This has been a fundamental principle that guided the deliberations of the NWPC and constituted the launching pad of the party. It was and still remains the major reason for the formation of the MDC. To breach that principle would mean that party loses its reason to exist.
We could not simultaneously be fighting dictatorship on one hand and strengthening it on the other. The MDC shall never be used as an instrument for the continued subjugation of the people of Zimbabwe.
It was precisely on the basis of fundamental differences on this sacred principle that the October 2005 split in the party occurred. There were those among us who got tired of the struggle opted for a political course that sought to compromise with the regime in order to create a political context and environment for second “Unity Accord” or better still an “Internal Settlement” This was simply a splinter group. Those of us in the mainstream MDC refused to betray the fundamental values and principles of the people and the party and we remain firm and resolute, committed to bringing about democracy and good governance to the country and put an end to the suffering of the people.
Some in the splinter group mounted what turned out to be a fake parliamentary opposition to the constitutional amendment designed to bring about the senate. The more honest among them including some key individuals among the party leadership in parliament were even absent when the crucial vote was taken. This was a clear indication of support for the senate project.
Those who opted to collaborate with the regime have distorted issues to come up with outrageous justifications for their action. No purpose can ever be served by narrating their position. They have made reference to democracy when in fact by their very actions they sought to link hands with the regime to destroy the democratic struggle and chances of bringing abort democratic governance in this country.
The MDC is a party that was formed on the basis of a shared history of suffering at the hands of the regime. It is a diverse party irrevocably bound by a civic equality as members of the movement. It is the only political party that lays a verified claim to having a nationwide rather that a regional or ethnic appeal. Let us keep it that way. Let us continue to celebrate and jealously guard the richness of our diversity and never allow the forces of tyranny to divide us.
Let us remain focussed on the struggle because there are more ominous developments ahead. We know that the regime is finalising a parliamentary bill to abandon the presidential elections scheduled for 2008, in favour of yet another constitutional amendment to enabled Mugabe’s handpicked successor to inherit the dictatorship until 2010. This is part and parcel of a strategy that started with the senate project supported by our erstwhile colleagues who went astray.
As a party let us brace ourselves to resist this sinister agenda with all our numbers and democratic might. We must now stop the dictatorship from continuing to play havoc with the lives and welfare of Zimbabweans. The agenda for action now must be to force the regime to yield to the people’s demand for free and fair electoral conditions ahead of the presidential elections of 2008.
The road has been long and hard. We have been through times so hard and traumatic those who continuously deride us cannot even begin to imagine them. Let us not be swayed or deviate. Together, let us walk the last mile to our freedom.
18 March 2006