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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Constitutional Amendment 18 of 2007 - Index of articles, opinion and anaylsis

  • Why the NCA-MDC stand-off is healthy for democracy
    Silence Chihuri
    September 22, 2007

    Visit the special index of articles, analysis and opinion on Constitutional Amendment 18

    The current stand-off between the MDC and the NCA is an extremely welcome development. It will also put the NCA into perspective and remind the civic leaders that they are not politicians after all. In fact we have seen a kind of cosseting between the MDC and the NCA that had embedded the two organisations in a manner that is retrogressive to democracy.

    The NCA has come to be known as a champion of human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe through the courageous if not dangerously heroic acts of the likes of Lovemore Madhuku. Ever since the NCA was incepted in 1997 it has conducted itself in a manner that has never faulted it in the eyes of the nation. This is why the NCA has become something of a stand-in opposition party because there are times when it has actually shown more teeth than the opposition.

    The only time the NCA came under unusual scrutiny in the eyes of the Zimbabwean public was in 2006 when the current Chairman Lovemore Madhuku was re-elected to another term in circumstances that were viewed by Zimbabweans as uncharacteristic of a champion of democracy. But Madhuku got off the hook courtesy of his record because he is an individual who epitomises courage and defiance in the marauding dictator that is ZANU PF. Because of Madhuku and the likes of Douglas Mwonzora who have taken great personal risk to champion democratic rights in Zimbabwe, the NCA today is a formidable force that has taken the fight against human rights violation a step further than where the CCJP left in the mid to late 1990's.

    Every Zimbabwean today except those who are living off the scandal that is ZANU PF rule will stand up to salute the NCA for it s efforts in the fight for human rights. This is why the NCA has enjoyed as much platform as the opposition political parties in Zimbabwe because they are there together in the trenches. Internationally the NCA is also highly regarded as a vehicle for the fight against ZANU PF tyranny. The part that the NCA has played for all these years is an integral one to the restoration of fully functional democracy in Zimbabwe.

    In recent times however, there has been this kind of warming up to each other between the MDC and the NCA in a way that would rather concern than assure many Zimbabweans. The NCA was almost becoming an appendage or off-shoot of the MDC. Some people have viewed this strategic positioning by the NCA leadership as a way of lying in waiting to feed on the political crumbs that would fall off an MDC high table once the party came into power. This was starting to hamper the impartiality and direction of the NCA which was visibly becoming an extension of the MDC. This recent stand-off would be one to be wished to last forever because it will prompt the NCA to sit back and think about its real role.

    The MDC is to blame for the NCA's quasi political status anyway, because the deficiencies in the party had rather propelled the NCA to that de facto political status. Maybe this is time for both organisations to be completely independent of each other and start to work in the interests of Zimbabwe rather than individuals who were simply seeking to ensconce themselves. The NCA should also be reminded that it is merely a civic body that should completely stay out of politics and any attempt by the organisation and its leadership to enmesh themselves in matters political would simply undermine their integrity. If any of the leaders of the NCA want to be involved in fully fledged politics, then they should resign from the civic body and join the MDC.

    Alternatively, they should register the NCA as political and field parliamentary candidates who will then be able to debate political matters in the parliament and enter into political deals with other parties. The NCA should also be clearly reminded that the MDC is not in any manner or form answerable to the civic body and that whatever decisions the party takes, it does so at its own peril. The NCA should actually seize the moment and go that step further and show Zimbabweans that they can be trusted more than the MDC. Also, it is not that the MDC has taken an extremely bad decision as such, but it is only that a few individuals at the helm of the NCA feel left out by the political bandwagon are now crying foul.

    Political pacts are never supposed to be between political parties and the civic society, period. The MDC and ZANU PF have entered into a political pact and one that is very necessary especially at this moment and only the self-serving and grand-standing antics of those at the helm of the NCA would seek to undermine the painstaking process of normalising the situation in Zimbabwe. This is the same NCA leadership that scurried down south to protest to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa that they felt being left out in the political dialogue between the MDC and ZANU PF. This propensity for crying foul whenever the NCA is left out of the political process shows very worrying signs of loss of direction in the organisation. If the NCA now wants political status they should simply be regularised as such.

    Yes the NCA should continue to organise demonstrations against the ongoing mal-governance of ZANU PF and should even demonstrate against any bad decisions by the MDC as the main opposition party in Zimbabwe. This is because the NCA as a civic organisation must champion the causes of the Zimbabwean people in a manner that is not done by the political parties. That is the difference between politics and civic agitation. There should never be any overlapping or co-habiting between political parties and civic bodies. Directing any anger towards the MDC could actually be viewed as a feeling of bad workmanship.

    Silence Chihuri is a Zimbabwean who writes from Scotland. He can be contacted on

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