By Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka
Next Saturday, the MDC celebrates its 20th anniversary at Rufaro stadium in Harare under the theme [email protected]: Celebrating courage, growth and the people’s victories.
Indeed, the past two decades have seen the audacious people’s party exhibiting nothing but unmitigated courage, phenomenal growth and unbridled victory.
Since the party’s formation at Rufaro Stadium in Harare in 1999, the party has grown in leaps and bounds. In the past 20 years, the people have displayed unmatched gallantry and courage in the face of oppression and repression.
Victory has been the watchword as shown by the millions who continue to repose their faith and trust in this mammoth people’s movement—the political behemoth called the MDC.
Today after two decades of existence, the MDC has a leader who won last year’s Presidential election while the party controls almost all the urban local authorities in the country and vast swathes of Zimbabwe’s rural hinterland.
At this our 20th anniversary, it is important to state that in the realm of numerology, 20 is a significant figure.
In the bible, we learn that for 20 years Jacob waited to get possession of his wives and property, and to be freed from the control of Laban his father-in-law.
For 20 years the children of Israel waited to be freed of Jabin, the king of Canaan who oppressed them. God’s response was to raise up Deborah and Barak, who freed the people from bondage.
It took 20 years to build Solomon’s home and temple; he then awarded his architect with 20 cities in Galilee.
Therefore the number 20 is about spiritual progression and karma, reaping what is sown.
It is sad that that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this political behemoth when we have lost thousands of innocent Zimbabweans through State-sanctioned brutality.
It is sad that next week, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of this great party when the icon and founding leader of this great people’s movement, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, is lying in the soft requiem of death in the loamy soils of Humanikwa village in Buhera. May his dear departed soul rest in eternal peace.
Indeed, along this tenuous journey, we have lost thousands of brave warriors of change whose only crime was their determination to complete the unfinished business of the liberation struggle by ensuring that palpable positive change was brought into the lives of ordinary people.
Indeed, for the past two decades, this mammoth party has exhibited dexterity and showcased nothing but gallantry, growth and the people’s victories in subsequent elections.
We have posted many notable achievements; we brought a new Constitution to the country while our stint in government is stands out as a sonorous statement about our capacity to deliver. During a four-year stint in government, we showed that indeed, can be an arena to bring positive transformation in the lives of the people.
It is therefore befitting that the MDC’s 20th anniversary is being celebrated under the theme- MDC @20: Celebrating courage, growth and the people’s victories.
For the past 20 years, the resilient people of Zimbabwe have shown nothing but valour and nerve. In the wake of brutality, torture, politically motivated deaths and unmitigated State-sponsored violence, the party has continued to train its eyes on the bigger goal of bringing democracy and ensuring positive change in the lives of the people.
Many have died; some have been maimed and jailed while women and children have been raped during this tenacious people’s struggle. Indeed, hundreds of innocent Zimbabweans have watered the tree of irrigation and many have lost their lives; Tonderai Ndira, Morgan Tsvangirai, Rebecca Mafukeni, Joshua Bakacheza, Talent Mabika, Tichaona Chiminya and others too many mention.
The old women who brave the clarion call of patriotism and who continue to be battered by rogue police officers are a testimony to the courage and resilience of the ordinary people who support the country’s democratic struggle.
It has been a sad 20 years of brutality, torture and arbitrary arrests and the huge numbers across the length and breadth of this country who have been callously murdered by the Zanu PF regime are a testament to the people’s collective journey of courage.
At a personal level, together with others, I was tortured and spent six months in the D-class section of a notorious Zimbabwean prison on trumped-up charges of banditry and terrorism. It was all part of the people’s collective story of courage.
Indeed, it has been a blood-stained people’s struggle but tenacity and courage have been the signature theme of the collective spirit of Zimbabweans in their quest to bring democracy in their motherland.
Notwithstanding the brutality and impediments in this our tenacious struggle, we have retained our courage. We have continued to focus on the bigger goal and today, the people are on the verge of reaping the dividend of their tenacious struggle against dictatorship.
What started as an idea in 1999 has largely come to fruition. Today we control all the towns and cities in the country as well as huge swathes of the rural hinterland of the length and breadth of Zimbabwe. From Kazungula to Tamandayi and from Msampakaruma to Mandidzidzure, the slogan Chinja Maitiro and Guqula Izenzo has been deeply ingrained in the national psyche.
Last year, President Nelson Chamisa won the Presidential vote in a poll in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission controversially revised downwards its own figures a record three times and later announced Emmerson Mnangagwa as the winner.
We will continue to state that legality is not legitimacy, just as apartheid was perfectly legal in accordance with the Laws of racist South Africa even as it was immoral and illegitimate. The cardinal lesson is that legitimacy and legality are not always mutually inclusive.
That President Chamisa polled 2,6 million votes in the last election is an incontrovertible testament to the phenomenal growth of this people’s movement even in the wake of massive rigging and violence against the innocent citizens of this country.
The people’s victories
The MDC’s tenacity and continued existence is evidence of a determined people’s victory against fear and repression.
It is a testament of the victory of an idea whose time has come.
The people have collectively won over violence, brutality, repression, rigging and intimidation.
The train of change remains very much on course regardless of the impediments thrown along the pathway of hope.
Since 2000, the MDC has been winning elections and it is telling that the verdict of the electoral court challenge of the 2002 presidential election is still to be delivered, 17 years after that disputed poll.
In 2008, president Tsvangirai defeated Robert Mugabe in the presidential election but was humble enough to accept the junior position of Prime Minister in the national interest. This was notwithstanding the fact that he had won the poll, whose results was announced after five weeks of an eerie silence from the country’s electoral commission as they fiddled with the figures to whittle down the margin of his victory.
In 2013, the country was stampeded into a sham poll without the requisite implementation of a raft of reforms that SADC had insisted upon.
In 2018, President Chamisa polled 2, 6 million votes after which Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa was controversially declared victor by the courts and not by the people, who rte truly sovereign.
Today, the multi-layered crisis facing Zimbabweans is just but a symptom of the people’s stolen mandate in last year’s plebiscite.
Until and unless the political crisis of legitimacy is resolved, Zimbabwe will continue to be enmeshed in the throes of endemic economic problems which are just but symptoms of the deeper, underlying structural political crisis.
Next week on Saturday, Zimbabweans will converge in their hundreds of thousands in Harare to celebrate the 20th birthday of this great people’s movement.
It has been a long and arduous journey but Zimbabweans are almost there.
This party has survived infiltration and scandal. The cocktail of counter-intelligence measures that include Sex, Money, Influence, Coercion and Extermination (SMICE) has failed to work against the MDC.
As an idea, the pursuit of change has doggedly marched on.
Twenty years later, the MDC remains standing, notwithstanding the regime’s massive investment in the vain attempt to stop the people’s brave march towards democracy and a positive transformation of their lives.
It has been a tenacious 20 years, in which the people have been killed, maimed and brutalized. Yet, they have continued to train their eyes on the bigger picture.
It has been a blood-stained 20-year odyssey of a determined people’s collective aspirations.
It has been an unbridled 20-year voyage to fulfill a gallant people’s collective dreams and aspirations.
It has been a tenuous 20-year campaign to bring back the dignity of the ordinary Zimbabwean.
Next week, as a mark of victory of the people’s collective dream, thousands will converge in Harare for the big bash to celebrate two decades of tenacity by a determined people.
Indeed, it has been 20 years of courage, growth and the people’s victories.
It has been 20 years of luke-ing the beast in the eye.
In the past 20 years, we have witnessed the unstinting audacity of hope!
The good news is that the end is nigh for this dictatorship.
Soon, and very soon, the gallant sons and daughters of this land will be shedding the warm tears of joy.
Happy 20th birthday, MDC.
Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy National Spokesperson of the MDC. He is a multiple award-winning journalist and an ardent political scientist. You can interact with him on facebook or on the twitter handle @luke_tambo.