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PART THREE: History of the MDC… The National Working People’s Convention… 26-28 February 1999

By Dr Tapiwa Mashakada

There were three most important phases that preceded the National Working Peoples’Convention.

The late Morgan Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda
The late Morgan Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda

Phase one: This phase involved the collection of “raw data from 26 peri-urban areas and rural centres across Zimbabwe for the period October to November 1998.

Second phase (Jan-Feb 1999) The Convention Planning process i.e agenda setting, Convention objectives, thematic papers.

Phases one and 2 were very critical in that they laid the foundation for the NWPC. Thanks to the planning team of Denis Murira, Ghandi Mudzingwa, Timothy Kondo, Rene Loewenson, David Muzhuzhu, Bright Chibvuri, Nyazika and others.

The National Working Peoples’Convention Agenda was based on thematic issues which were as Follows:

1. The Economy and Labour Market
Chairperson: Charles Halimana and Brian Raftopoulos
Presenter: Dr Godfrey Kanyenze
Rapporteurs: Dr Phineas Kadenge and Blessing Chiripanhura

2. EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
Chaired by Mr Mashangwa Chifamba and Mr Peter Mabhande
-Presenter: Dr Levine and Mr Young
-Rapporteur: Mr Tapiwa Mashakada and Mr Mukhululi Ncube

3. GENDER
Chaired by Mrs Enna Chitsa and Ona Jirira
-Presenters: Rudo Kwaramba and Getrude Mtombeni
Rapporteurs: Mai Miriro Pswarai

4. HEALTH SOCIAL SECURITY AND HOUSING
CHAIRED by Mr Laison Mlambo
Presenters- Dr Rene Loewenson and Richard Muvirimi
Rapporteurs- Charles Hungoro

5. INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE
Chaired by Prof Heneri Dzinotyiwei and John Van’t Hoff
Presenter: Farai Zizhou
Rapporteur: R Kadenge and Keretia Chikowe

6. LAND AND GENDER
Chaired by Paul Nyathi
Presenters – Dr Matshalaga and Jose Martins
Rapporteur- Regis Mushininga

7. POLITICAL ISSUES: CONSTITUTION AND NATIONAL INTEGRATION
Chaired by Dr Matchaba Hove and Gibson Sibanda
Presenters: David Chimhinhi and Ben Hlatshwayo
Rapporteurs- Mike Auret and Brian Kagoro

8. GOVERNANCE
Chaired by Isaac Matongo and Tendai Biti
Presenters: Ghandi Mudzingwa and Prof Welshman Ncube
Rapporteurs-Denis Murira and Dr Lovemore Madhuku

As can be seen, the NWPC deliberated on several key issues that affected the people of Zimbabwe, their concerns, aspirations and priorities; identifying the priorities of the nation. The NWPC also identified among other things

(a) the lack of progress in resolving land hunger and rural investment needs
(b) the absence of a national constitution framed by and for the people
(c) widespread corruption and lack of public accountability in political and economic institutions
(d) The inability of the economy to address the basic needs of the majority of Zimbabweans etc

It is clear that the Agendas of Land redistribution and the Constitution were started by the people not Zanu PF. This is a historical fact.

In its declaration the National Working Peoples Convention resolved to ” take these issues to the people across the country, to mobilize them towards the working peoples agenda and to implement a vigorous and democratic political movement for change”

We can therefore make inferences on the origin of the name Movement for Democratic Change. Hence the formation of the MDC was not an event but a long elaborate process.

It is necessary to note that some key figures who participated at NWPC later backtracked and snubbed the evolution of the MDC. 

The MDC is thus a Social Movement not a political party. It was formed out of a social consensus hence its diverse ideological strands. Social Democracy became a uniting ideology for all the various groups who formed the MDC.

Part 4 will look at the steps taken to form the MDC after the National Working Peoples’ Convention of February 1999.