Zimbabwe: MDC-T Exposed

column

OVER the years, I have come across very little evidence to suggest that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) is an independent and proud party with a clear understanding of what it means to be Zimbabwean.

I have been hard-pressed to find anything that shows that the party values traditions that make Zimbabwe a unique and proud nation it is today.

From the land reform programme, to the indigenisation exercise and now the draft constitution, the conduct of the MDC-T has been startlingly similar. In all three instances, the labour-backed party has done so much to protect the vested interests of western nations and its own selfish needs as a political movement and very little to advance the ideals and aspirations of the Zimbabwean people.

Let's consider the draft constitution alone. At the start of the constitution-making process, the Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) went on a nationwide campaign to gather people's views. It was felt that the advice of the people in shaping the supreme law of the land was vital. These views were compiled and put together in what would be termed the National Report. Unfortunately, that very crucial report has yet to be made public. I have, luckily, had the great privilege of reading it and can report that, on those fundamental issues which have molded us into the wonderful nation that we are today, the views of the people were unmistakable, overwhelming and almost unanimous.

For example, more than 50 percent of the population wants homosexuality expressly outlawed in our constitution. About the same amount feels there is no need at all for dual citizenship in Zimbabwe. Over 70 percent want a unitary state rather than a devolved one.

There is a strong feeling starting to emerge that COPAC's failure to include the principles upon which our independence was founded, like land reform and economic empowerment, was also a monumental dereliction of duty.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party doesn't seem to share this view, however. Instead, it is fighting day in and day out to have the flawed, imperfect and fraudulent COPAC draft sent to a referendum. This failure of nerve by the MDC-T will come to haunt it in the coming elections, given that voters are more likely to sympathize with a party that advances their desires rather than undermine them. In fact, it is not going too far to say that Zanu-PF has emerged from its temporary position of weakness to become the dominant party in Zimbabwean politics, as clearly shown in a recent survey by Freedom House organisation, because of its consistent defence of our ideals.

In the new constitution, President Robert Mugabe's party wants the principles of the liberation struggle preserved. It also wants the constitution to make express provision for land reform and economic empowerment and to respect the wishes of the people on the subject of devolution.

None of this is to say the current draft as pushed by the MDC-T is without sound provisions. Nor that it is not an improvement, in some respects, on the Lancaster House Constitution. Of course it has some new and exciting sections. For example, it has a more comprehensive section on fundamental human rights and provides for democratic mechanisms.

Yet in the larger scheme of things, the draft is nowhere near what we would have wanted it to reflect. A national constitution shouldn't just be about advancing so-called principles of democracy, or human rights or those institutions that aid in the attainment of good governance. It should and must also be about the history of a country, its beliefs and traditions.

Nationalism, independence, sovereignty and socio-economic development continue, for many of us, to be very precious concepts even in the 21st century. They make us who we are as Zimbabweans and we should never shun them. So far, the MDC-T has not said convincingly why these ideals should not continue to be part of our heritage. All they have done is play the politics of smear and denigration. They are trying to defraud an entire nation by lying, openly and brazenly, that the people of Zimbabwe agreed during the outreach programme that these values were no longer necessary in a free Zimbabwe. Of course that is nonsense.

From 1896 when the First Chimurenga was fought, to present-day Zimbabwe where the fight for economic empowerment has taken centre stage, the notion of independence has always been very dear to us. We have constantly cherished the freedom to entrench our own culture and beliefs and advance the aspirations of all Zimba-bweans without external influence. These ideals, for which our nation has become notorious internationally, have created something quite extraordinary- a country that believes in itself.

I am one of those people who are truly proud to be Zimba-bwean. The first thing I do when I wake up is look around for news on Zimbabwe, and it is usually the last thing I do before I go to bed. I am proud of what we have achieved as a country, and believe that our insistence on the sanctity of independence and sovereignty (both of which have lately been spoken of in terms of indigenisation and economic empowerment) as well as our notorious hatred for homosexuality, are beliefs that set us apart from other countries. Delete these values from the equation and there will be very little left to call Zimbabwe. Yet the MDC-T seems intent on ending this sense of Zimbabwean-ness.

Admittedly, we have made some serious blunders along the way and these should be taken into account when drafting our constitution. In that regard, the MDC-T must be applauded for placing heavy emphasis on sections to do with human rights and democracy. These provisions will certainly enrich our freedom as a nation, yet they do not go far enough. At its most basic, a constitution should not merely be about democracy. It should be about our identity as a people.

Since the First Chimurenga, we have made some very notable achievements. We won independence from a racist and wicked minority regime; we distributed land to hundreds of thousands of previously deprived families; empowered ourselves through the indigenisation and economic empowerment drive and have successfully defended our national independence and sovereignty at a time when many African countries are struggling to ward off western imperialist tendencies. This should be a matter of great national pride and we should be terribly happy to incorporate these ideals at the very heart of our constitution.

Sidelining our values and replacing them with sweet notions of human rights and democracy might sound a sensible thing to do, even an amazing thing, but the end of our beliefs will mean a negation of the sacrifices made by thousands of our heroes who died trying to give us the Zimbabwe we all love today.

For their sake, and our country's, the self-serving nonsense currently coming out of Prime Minister Tsvangirai's party must come to an immediate end.

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