Back to Index
Opposition MDC hopes to avoid split
October 20, 2005
HARARE - The
leadership of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) is continuing crisis talks to mend divisions over whether
to participate in next month's senate elections.
Party president Morgan Tsvangirai and both the women's and youth
assemblies have called for a boycott of the senate poll on 26 November,
but a powerful faction within the party has vowed to press ahead
with preparations for the elections.
Tsvangirai announced two weeks ago that the MDC would not participate
in the upcoming poll, overruling the party's national council, which
had voted in favour of contesting.
The divided opposition will have to make a final decision before
next Monday, when aspiring senate candidates have to file for nomination.
The party's national executive committee is scheduled to meet on
Gibson Sibanda, the party's vice-president, said Tsvangirai had
"wilfully violated the constitution of the MDC and breached its
provisions" by ignoring the national council's decision.
Sibanda said he had held talks with Tsvangirai in a bid to come
up with a unified MDC position on the poll.
"I met the president of the MDC, Mr Tsvangirai, on Sunday and I
met him on Wednesday and today [Thursday], so that we come up with
one common agenda on the issue of the senate elections. We are still
seeking a solution to the crisis that we are facing as an organisation,"
He said the party's leadership structure had met in Harare on Wednesday,
but no accommodation had been reached.
Tsvangirai's statement that money to hold the elections should be
used to increase the salaries of poorly paid civil servants like
teachers, members of the police and the army has resonated with
The National Constitutional Assembly, a local NGO, and the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions issued statements on Thursday urging the
MDC to boycott the poll, and reiterated that the costs involved
in establishing a senate were intolerable.
The MDC leader's position was also strengthened this week when four
of the six MDC provincial offices that had voted for participation
in the senate poll reversed their initial position and backed his
Six MDC provinces had initially supported participation while six
had voted against; Bulawayo and Matabeleland South provinces are
now the only remaining pro-senate areas.
Of the six top opposition leaders, Tsvangirai is alone in calling
for a poll boycott.
Sources revealed that civil society organisations and some Harare-based
diplomats had tried to mediate between the differing MDC factions
in a bid to avoid a potentially damaging split.
However, Tsvangirai remained defiant on Thursday, saying the senate
would be a further drain on the country's shrinking taxpayer base.
Ruling ZANU-PF used its overwhelming majority in parliament in August
to rubber stamp a constitutional amendment creating the senate.
The upper house will have 50 senators elected by ballot, while 15
non-political members will be appointed by the president from special
interest groups, such as members of the council of chiefs, women
and representatives from the agricultural and business sectors.
They will review, and have the power to change, legislation sent
to it from parliament.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.