By Tichaona Sibanda
Grace Kwinjeh, a veteran MDC-T activist and fearless campaigner for women’s rights, was on Saturday honoured by the party for coming up with the name ‘Movement for Democratic Change’ at its formation.
Not many Zimbabweans, except party insiders, knew the name of the person who coined the name MDC, until Saturday’s 12th anniversary celebrations held at Gwanzura stadium.
The 37 year-old Kwinjeh, a journalist by profession, was among a number of party activists and stalwarts who were recognised for their leading roles in the formation of the party and for keeping it going.
Others honoured during the celebrations were party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, for his leadership and courage, Ernest Mudavanhu for coming up with the party slogan, (Chinja Maitiro) and Cephas Makuyana, a veteran trade unionist, for being the first master of ceremonies at an MDC rally.
Manicaland and Masvingo were recognised for being the two provinces with the most MP’s from the MDC-T while Binga was recognised for faithfully voting MDC despite intimidation and harassment.
An ecstatic Kwinjeh, who is now the party’s Global Advocacy Campaign Representative in Brussels, Belgium, told SW Radio Africa that she remembers vividly how she came up with the party name.
‘We discussed many options but I remember specifically explaining that we are a movement that is demanding change through the ballot box. Others suggested workers party because of the trade union base, but then that would have excluded students, women and others.
‘I explained the concept, putting into context the definition of the name of a people’s movement that would not only take Zimbabweans by storm but Africa and the world too. That’s how the name MDC was born,’ Kwinjeh said.
A fierce critic of the Robert Mugabe regime, Kwinjeh has been arrested several times on various trumped-up charges and has also been held in solitary confinement. She was one of the civic and political leaders brutally tortured on March 11th 2007.
Those arrested that day included Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti and dozens of others for attending a prayer meeting in Highfields. In an unprovoked attack, police shot dead one MDC activist and arrested many, including Kwinjeh.
They were severely tortured and assaulted in police custody. Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland, co-Minister of National Healing had to be airlifted to South Africa for urgent treatment. SW Radio Africa
For pictures of MDC 12th Anniversary Celebrations see album below