Supreme Court ruling: Mediation key to MDC, national crises says Dewa Mavhinga


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The recent Supreme Court judgment may have thrown the MDC Alliance into a quandary. On the spur of the moment, when leaders are caught up in the heat of the moment, nasty public fallouts may seem inevitable in what looks like a political zero-sum game.

But a closer look at the concept of a political parties’ alliances might provide hints for a more radical approach.

In setting up the MDC Alliance the now late Morgan Tsvangirai said the motivation behind the formation of the Alliance was to avoid splitting the vote in favour of the status quo.

The Alliance of seven opposition parties brought on board two former secretary generals of the MDC (Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti).

At the point of previous MDC splits, since 2005, prospects of working together again may have seemed unthinkable, just as it may seem in the current situation.

A lesson from the 2008 elections is that a united MDC could have delivered presidential victory to Tsvangirai, and the same can be said of the 2018 elections.

One may ask how people accusing each other of selling out can work together. All previous splits in the MDC over the years have been characterised by generous labelling of the other as sell outs or agents of Zanu PF, but that has not stopped alliances at crucial moments.

From September 2008 the MDC under Tsvangirai engaged in mediated talks with Zanu PF that led to a Government of National Unity.

There have been calls, in the context of the current administration, for National Dialogue talks between the government and the main opposition and others.

It is, therefore, quite possible, and even desirable, for the broad MDC leadership to consider mediation as part of the way forward.

The book, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” would be good reference material for the leaders at this time. Mediation and finding common political is not easy, but it is certainly possible and worth pursuing.

Labels about selling out are simply exaggerated political banter which should not stand in the way of the bigger picture.

Where are the political elders? And where is the Mother of the Movement?

Dewa Mavhinga is Southern Africa director with the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. He has over 10 years’ research and advocacy experience on Zimbabwe as well as in Southern Africa.  

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