By Charles Motsi
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has over the years gained notoriety for being serial cry-babies. Their latest whining tune is on the issue of what they are calling the shrinking democratic space in the country, but evidence on the ground definitively rubbishes this claim.
The term, democratic space, refers to the arena that exists between the state and the individual in which people interact to hold the state accountable, shape public debate, participate in politics and express their needs and opinions. Given this rudimentary definition of democratic space let us look at how Zimbabwe fares on the basic requirements of a vibrant democratic space.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, being the statesman that he is, is on record articulating the importance of a vibrant opposition in a democracy and he has stated that the primary objective of any opposition is to hold government accountable for the greater good of the nation.
The man even walked the talk by inviting all losing presidential candidates from the 2018 elections to a round table, a grouping that has come to be known as the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD).
Unsurprising the MDC has refused to be part of POLAD so that they continue shouting from the terraces disrupting the flow of play with their “kudira jecha” narrative. History has shown that they prefer to run to their western backers crying abuse so that they fill their coffers with donor funds that their leadership in turn abuse for personal use.
So, in as far as accommodating political parties and involving them the door has been open since 2018 when POLAD was established but the MDC simply refuses to occupy this democratic space created for them by the President.
Democratic spaces require free movement and engagement with the public regardless of your political background as long as your programs and gatherings are in accordance with the constitution and also respect the rights of other parties that do not share your particular brand of democracy, noone has ever been restricted in this regard.
The MDC have been moving around the country interacting with their supporters and making their case to the people of Zimbabwe. However, after their nationwide fact finding mission which they used to preach the gospel of demos and disobedience to government programs, they still claim that they are not being awarded a flourishing democratic space.
The problem with the MDC is; they equate democratic space with freedom to engage in violent acts that destroy public property and infringe on others’ right to free movement. Which government on earth would allow such mayhem? In January 2019 security forces had to move in and restore sanity when MDC backed mobs unleashed violence in various residential areas around the country.
When security forces move in to restore order it scuttles the MDC’s plans to cause chaos in the country and instead of acknowledging that they have abused the democratic space awarded to them they cry abuse again.
Rule of law is one of the key ingredients in a functioning democracy and Zimbabwe has one of the best and free legislative that ensures that the rule of law is respected.
Just weeks ago, the MDC deputy chairperson, Job Sikhala, won a case against government and is walking a freeman. This is just goes to show that the courts are not captured as claimed by the MDC and other hostile civic society organisations.
Last week in Mutoko the State's case against the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) was thrown out by the court for the charge of participating in an illegal demonstration and seven teachers who led the protest are free. This is ample evidence that individuals and organizations are free to carry out their constitutional right to assemble and protest against even government policies in Zimbabwe.
The MDC’s claim of a shrinking democratic space could not be further from the truth and in their quest to unconstitutionally unseat a duly elected government as alluded to by their leadership, they will always cry foul whenever their machinations are thwarted.