Q. Is the MDC split final?
A. The holding of a congress by the Ncube-Sibanda faction, including election of officials and the impending Tsvangirai faction congress signal a permanent split.
Q. What are the causes of this split?
A. The immediate reason behind the spit was the insistence of the Ncube middle class faction to participate in the Senate elections, and the refusal of Tsvangirai, under pressure from below, to continue legitimizing the regime though participation in rigged elections. However, the origins of the split are much deeper. They lie in the hijacking of the MDC by the middle classes and capitalists in 2000. After the elections, under the leadership of Ncube, they used the money from western donors, NGOs and Mbeki to commercialise the struggle, to boot out radical workers, activists and socialists and to reduce the role of the ZCTU, which had formed the party, to nil. They cancelled the 2000 December mass action in favour of elections, courts and western sanctions, fearful that the jambanja route would further radicalize the masses against both Mugabe and capitalism. They won control because the masses allowed themselves to be bribed by their money and failed to develop their own working people ideology which would see the party being led by working people themselves and fighting for the interests of working people against dictators, bosses and capitalists.
But by 2005 with the worsening economic crisis and the failure of the elections route, threatening radicalized mass revolts, capitalist elite forces in both MDC and Zanu PF, supported by Mbeki, felt that they had to move rapidly, take control of their parties and strike a compromise deal, that would have the sanctions lifted, accelerate Gono’s IMF ESAP policies and stop the persecution of the MDC as a ‘loyal opposition.’ In Zanu PF, middle class - capitalist forces around the Mujuru –Msika- Nkomo camp seized power after Tsholotsho, and fearful of past events in Serbia and Ukraine, accelerated the drive for compromise with their colleagues in MDC. The army commander, General Chiwenga, concerned that Operation Murambatsvina had failed to destroy the spirit of resistance in the masses, pleaded with Gono and the politicians “to do anything possible so that my soldiers won’t have to meet hungry protestors in the streets.” To reach their Muzorewa – type settlement, it was necessary that in both parties, radical and nationalist forces had to be crushed or removed. Thus in Zanu PF the war veterans were silenced and placed under the army; Chinotimba and his ZFTU were castrated; nationalist middle classes like Jonathan Moyo crushed and Mugabe, assured of both his political legacy and his personal and family’s safety, promised to retire in 2008 to be replaced by the Mujurus -John Nkomo faction, which is very close to multinationals. In MDC the remnants of the radical unionists and activists were kicked out and Ncube, Coltart and Chinamasa under Mbeki’s tutelage, secretly drafted and signed a new constitution which excluded persons without degrees from becoming presidents. i.e. Tsvangirai. This is when Tsvangirai woke up and stared fighting, supported by the MDC rank and file, calling for a radical paradigm shift including boycotting elections, leading to the split.
Q. But won’t Arthur Mutambara make a change?
A. No he wont make much of a difference for several reasons:
i. He is now part of an MDC faction totally controlled by middle class elites like Ncube, Nyathi and Gasela, who are committed to collaboration with the Zanu PF dictatorship, including participating in fake elections under a rigged constitution. This is why they were given the $8 billion by the government, which was released just in time for their congress! This is why Chimanikire was rejected as president. Mutambara has been away for 12 years and lacks a support base to control the party. His statement that he was opposed to participation in elections is just empty talk, for he did not fight for that position at the Congress, nor was such a resolution passed. If he insists on this he will be immediately kicked out, which is why they have amended their constitution to say it is not the party president who will be its presidential candidate.
ii. Secondly, despite his heroic leadership role in the 1980s struggles against dictatorship and ESAP, the Mutambara of 2006 is a different person. He has abandoned the side of the poor and working people and joined the side of the rich and capitalists. He has worked and continues to work in his own business for huge multinationals and international banks responsible for ESAPs throughout Africa and the 3rd world. He is trusted enough by USA and UK imperialists to work in their most sensitive institutions like NASA. In his acceptance speech, he outlined his vision of what he saw as the mandate of his generation – and it is one for the black elites and rich and not one for working people. His vision is no longer as it was in the 1980s in his student days, which was one of abolition of capitalist private property and the redistribution of wealth so that the poor may eat, have houses, land, education or living wages. Now he talks of a vision of “commercial farmers, innovative entrepreneurs, productive workers and creative managers,” who will compete with other global capitalists in screwing the poor. Instead of redistribution of land to the poor peasants he now calls for title deeds in land, so that the chefs who looted the farms are protected for ever. Unlike before when he used to denounce ESAP, the IMF and so forth, today, like Gideon Gono, he supports NEPAD and calls for restoring ties with the “international community” – i.e. the IMF and multinationals and the Group of 8 led by Bush and Blair. Mutambara is now part of the elite and exploiter classes who fear jambanja of the masses which is why Ncube & co. invited him. This is a reality recognized even by the CIO fronted - Financial Gazette, which observed: “Analysts and those who went to college with him, however, said despite his militant words, Mutambara was not going to be confrontational. He was looking for a compromise…”
Q. So are you saying the Tsvangirai faction is the solution?
A. By calling for a paradigm shift and spearheading the boycott of the Senate elections, including risking the split of the MDC, we commend Tsvangirai. However, we must not forget that it is Tsvangirai himself who played a key role in inviting and protecting the middle classes – capitalists who ended up hijacking the party, and the party still continues participating in municipal elections, after the boycott of Senate elections. He must now correct this by spearheading the total cleaning out of the MDC of remnants of such forces such as capitalists like Eddie Cross and placing its leadership squarely back into tried and tested working people activists and leaders, who are ideologically clear. It is now time to walk the talk of a paradigm shift, which is in fact a full ideological and strategic paradigm restoration of our vision of the late 1980s. This means four key things: (i) a vision of democracy and society where the wealth of society is used to fulfill basic human needs like food, health, housing, education and leisure and not the profits of the few capitalists. This requires that the wealth of society is democratically owned and controlled by the majority and not as the private property of the few. This means rejection of the IMF and ESAP, i.e. neo-liberalism and capitalism; (ii) no to continued participation in rigged elections – no to collaboration with the regime and capitalist – imperialist forces and yes to mass popular resistance – jambanja ndizvo! Current MPs, mayors and councilors should remain in office only as long as they are prepared to participate in and lead the jambanja. (iii) yes to resistance based on a Working People’s Charter of Freedom demanding things like a living wage, right to strike, full subsidies for and reversal of the massive increases in costs of food, education, health including ARVs, farming inputs, transport and housing, restoration of services like water, sewerage and electricity; an immediate end to payments to the IMF and international banks; jailing of those responsible for state murders, corruption and seizure of their properties; redistribution of land to the poor and peasants; and a people driven new constitution guaranteeing these rights and truly democratic elections. (iii) no to commodification and commecialisation of the struggle and resistance. Yes to cadres and no to rented crowds and mercenaries! (iv) the building of an effective engine to spearhead this popular resistance, namely a united democratic front of the Tsvangirai MDC and all radical and democratic forces and social movements, modeled on the UDF in SA in the 1980s built by the ANC, COSATU, SACP and civic society. This calls for the immediate convening of a 2nd Working People’s Convention to map the way forward in terms of ideology, strategy and tactics, in particular the Charter and a Working People’s Calendar of Resistance for 2006 and in the long term.
We hope the MDC will consider these ideas at its forthcoming congress and come up with a new transformed leadership and resolute resolutions in favour of mass resistance.