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Report on the public discussion "The senate and the MDC crisis. Which way Zimbabwe?"
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
December 08, 2005

1.0 Introduction
This report captures the presentations and contributions of the people of Zimbabwe on the senate issue and analysing the meaning and potential impact of the crisis in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The following paragraph contains the background of the meeting and subsequently describes the agenda. The presentations are summarised and the way forward proffered. In conclusion, the key outcome from the meeting is that there is need for the progressive forces to continue championing the cause of democracy, which agenda will be based around a freedom charter couched around people’s basic needs.

2.0 Background to the meeting
The government of Zimbabwe instituted a heavily disputed and criticizes 17th constitutional amendment on the 30th of August 2005. This amendment has several meanings and implications that include the confiscation of people’s passports, the introduction of a senate and the withdrawal of land issues from the court’s jurisdiction.

Before the senate election, the opposition MDC crept into a rift and decision crisis, specifically on whether to participate or not. Two camps emerged, and one camp went into the election and lost. The key outcome of the election was the historic boycott of the election in Zimbabwe’s 100-year history of elections.

The Zimbabwean people united and vehemently rejected the 17th constitutional amendment as a whole, which was manifested by their clear boycott of the election. Key issues of concern to the people of Zimbabwe revolve around the economic crisis and the arrogance of the government. In a bid to address the governance crisis in Zimbabwe, the opposition MDC, whose contribution to the struggle for democracy was immense, became a source of worry to many people of Zimbabwe. In addition to this, because of the unilateral media policy in the state media, there emerged a cognitive imbalance among the people of Zimbabwe as to what the future holds amidst the current crisis. This is what the public meeting sought to address and it was extensively debated.

3.0 Summary of Presentations
The presentations made to the meeting were wide in scope but one in focus- pursuing the agenda of democracy in Zimbabwe. Presenters from the agreed in noting the crisis in Zimbabwe as that of governance and failing of the state.

They identified the key agenda of Zanu PF as not being people first, but seeks to, among others:

  • fulfill their one party state agenda
  • amass and protect their new ill gotten wealth
  • facilitate Mugabe’s succession without problems
  • maintain Zanu PF dominance in Zimbabwe’s political space
  • Bar NGOs and any other people centered organisation from working with the people.

The senate was dismissed as a playhouse (mere puff). It was noted to be representing a desecration of national processes that are sacrosanct. The lack of solemnity and excitement about the senate means it is illegitimate.

Jessie Majome, the Spokesperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) emphasized that the senate must not be taken seriously as it displays the failure of the government of Zimbabwe. In dismissing the senate, she noted that the Zimbabwean economy had shrunk by 40% in the last five years, above 80% unemployment rate, above 411% inflation rate and where civil servants, nurses in particular resort to sleeping at work because they can not afford transport fares. She further dismissed the senate in noting that there already existed a senate in Zimbabwe, because on the abolition of the senate in 1989, the Minister of Justice informed parliament on the 7th of November 1989 that the senate was not being abolished. Rather it was the Lower House that was being abolished.

Briggs Bomba of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) and Sydney Chisi of Zimbabwe Integrated Youth Projects (ZIYSAP) agreed with Jessie in dismissing the senate and its founding act, the 17th constitutional amendment.

Bomba called upon the people of Zimbabwe to continue with the struggle, particularly, for the progressive forces to unite and revolve around a democratic front that focused on a people centered economy.

On the MDC, they noted that it is the height of irony that the party is cracked on such a clear issue as the senate election. The three agreed that the progressive forces must continue with their agenda for democracy and partner those sections that identify with the needs and aspirations of the poor in the MDC.

Members of the public that commented called on the civil society leadership to constantly adopt new tactics and strategies in the struggle for democracy.

4.0 Conclusion
It is the Coalition’s view that Zimbabwe deserves better and like Edson Zvobgo says, a people get a government that they deserve. Zimbabweans should work towards a government that they want. People need to take responsibility and as a way forward, the presenter’s highlighted the need for unity in action, calling for political reforms- a new people driven and centered constitution. They also called for the people to continue to reject and disregard the 17th constitutional amendment and its dictates. Lastly, they urged humanitarian organisations to heighten efforts to mitigate the obtaining economic, housing, water, health and food crisis.

Visit the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition fact sheet

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