The Movement for Democratic Change (T) held its 4th national congress in Harare Province at City Sports centre from 31 October to 1 November 2014. The congress was held under the theme ‘Towards National Convergence: A Solution to the National Crisis.’ Delegates to the Congress were drawn from the level of Branch upwards, from each of the Party’s 12 Provinces.
Also in attendance were representatives of MDC T’s external branches. The Congress received solidarity messages from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) and the Internal Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) represented by Wellington Chibhebhe. This overview provides internal resolutions, external resolutions and policy resolutions based on the congress’s adoption of the four thematic committees namely organizational transformation, constitutional review, policy review and the roadmap to elections.
Congress noted that the institutional and structural design of the party has contributed to the ‘split’ of the party in the past and lack of party cohesion which is essential to realize the objectives of the party. The party also noted that the current institutional design might lead to destructive functions in the party and another split.
Congress resolved to amend the constitution to allow the President to be the custodian of the party name, custodian of all party assets, to supervise all in the leadership, to be the party’s chief fundraiser and to suspend National Standing Committee members through the National Council for breach of the party constitution. In this regard the Secretary General shall no longer be responsible ‘for all party affairs in the National Secretariat’ and shall report to the President.
Congress resolved to ratify the recommendation of national council to expand the members of the National Standing Committee to include the secretary for elections who shall be appointed by the President.
Congress resolved that the party sets up an Arbiter General’s office that cascades to all levels to speedily deal with the key issues of discipline in the party, cognisant of the fact that people are disciplined not for their views but for their constitutional conduct.
Congress resolved that deputies of officers of congress except the vice president and the vice chairperson shall not be elected from the next congress but will be appointed by the President from a pool of national executive members elected from the provinces.
Congress resolved that deputies of officers of congress except the vice president and the vice chairperson elected from this 4th party national congress will not sit in the standing committee.
Congress resolved that all national standing committee members shall work under the supervision and the authority of the President.
Congress resolved to reinstate the following external assemblies that is UK, South Africa and United States of America as party provinces.
Congress resolved that internal elections of the party shall be run by an independent electoral body established and or appointed by the national council.
Congress therefore resolved to extend the voting rights in all primary elections to all party members and not limit them only to party structures that hold positions in the party. This means an expansion of the Electoral College, whereby all members of party members in a legitimate membership roll of its party in a particular district are eligible to vote in a primary election for their parliamentary candidate and all registered members in a particular ward are eligible to vote for a councilor.
Congress resolved to ensure gender parity in all organs of the party and respect the principle of 50/50 gender representation.
Congress resolved that local authorities should work with the party, report and be accountable to the party.
Congress resolved to set up a Political Party Institute that will operate as a think-tank. The Congress also resolved to build structures and embark on a cadreship development program and leadership training programs and introducing an evaluation and performance management system for the leaders at all levels.
Position on rebels
Congress resolved to ratify the decision of the National Council to expel Tendai Biti, Elton Mangoma, Solomon Madzore and all the renegades who have transformed themselves into MDC Renewal. The MDC renewal must forthwith cease to use the party’s name and symbols as they did with party colors.
Congress noted the shortcomings and imperfections of the July 2013 general elections as acknowledged by SADC, the African Union and the international community, particularly the shambolic voters roll and failure to provide an electronic voters roll as required by the law.
Congress therefore ratified the National Council position not to participate in any election, including by-elections, and even the next elections whenever they are held, until and unless all agreed reforms are implemented to the letter and spirit, including the provision of a biometric voters roll in a way that protects the will of the people and return the country to legitimacy.
Congress noted that the new constitution allows citizens to peacefully demonstrate and petition the State on any grievance. Congress therefore resolved that the party will embark on peaceful and constitutional demonstrations and other forms of expression around the issues to force the regime of Robert Mugabe to accept the need for reforms in the following but not limited to the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC), media, security sector, implementation of the Constitution in its letter and spirit.
Congress envisaged that the constitutional and peaceful demonstrations will force the government of Robert Mugabe to the negotiating table and build consensus on the need for a timetable towards a free and fair election and return to legitimacy.
Big Tent – Expansion of social base
Congress noted the need to expand its social and political base. Congress therefore resolved to welcome all members of other political parties and even former rebels to come and join the party in order to strengthen the base to fight for a new, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe.
Congress noted that the party needed to strengthen its organic links with other organizations, civic groups, labour, the informal sector, students, church, traditional leaders, progressive political parties, women organizations and the youth in order to entrench the grassroots support and reinvigorate the mass-based approach.
Congress therefore resolved to call for a national convergence conference from all groups and political parties to identify and agree on the national grievances and map the way forward for the country.