Gwisai warns against forming new party

HARARE - Munyaradzi Gwisai, leader of the International Socialist Organisation (Iso), has warned his colleagues who pushed for a ‘‘No’’ vote in the just-ended referendum against forming a political party.

The former Highfield legislator’s warning comes against corridor talk and suspicion that National Constitutional Assembly chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, could form a party.

Madhuku, a public law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, has been advocating for a people-driven constitution for the last 13 years.

“To rush into forming a new party on the basis of the disparate ‘‘No’’ vote, and one led by the middle classes, even if formed after the elections, will not take working people far,” said Gwisai in his organisation’s latest dispatch which reacts to the recently concluded referendum.

“Its ideological character as well as un-democratic DNA will be no different from the MDC. It will merely be a popular front in which radical trade unions, activists, students and socialists will be used to build another broad church, which will eventually be dominated by capitalists and their middle class lackeys.

“Working people need to look hard and learn the hard lessons from how the MDC was hijacked by the rich. Rushing to form a political party from the disparate groups that made up the ‘Vote No’ groups would inevitably lead to another MDC disaster”.

Madhuku has not ruled out forming a party although he maintains he has unfinished business with Zanu PF and MDC formations who campaigned for a ‘‘Yes’’ vote.

In the constitutional referendum, the ‘‘Yes’’ vote polled 3 079 966 votes, representing 93 percent of the ballot while ‘‘No’’ vote scored 179 489, or 5,4 percent.

This paved way for a new constitution to replace the overly amended and defective Lancaster House Constitution that has been in use since independence.

Gwisai said pro-democracy groups, in the event that they think of forming a party, must strive to build a movement, from the bottom to the top.

“That kind of movement is not formed overnight in a hotel conference room or an NGO board-room. It can only be formed in the anvil of real concrete struggles in which the true colours of activists, leaders and organisations are revealed, tried and tested.

“The agenda of the ruling classes is clear. As publicly admitted by the likes of MDC’s Eric Matinenga and Mugabe’s George Charamba, another elite government of national unity beckons post-elections, with elections only useful for determining the share-out of power. The Copac Constitution already accommodates this: a neoliberal property regime, and an accommodating political framework, with two vice presidents, an unlimited size of Cabinet and bloated Parliament to give enough positions to the leaders of all parties,” said Gwisai.

Among those who see Madhuku forming a party or view that as his only alternative to remain relevant in the current discourse, is Nathaniel Manheru a columnist suspected to be President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman, Charamba.

“The votes NCA attracted may have been too small to dent the ‘‘Yes’’ vote. But they were numerically big enough to launch a movement, a party… Numerically bigger when you consider two points. While the two main parties got loyalty votes, Madhuku got the thinking vote.

Potentially that makes his numbers very many, magnified. He commanded a leadership stratum, actual and potential and that augments the quality of his numbers.

“I said potentially because the same strength is also the same weakness. It is easy to become another Enoch Dumbutshena and his elitist Forum party (or another Makoni)…You looked at the geographic spread of the NCA vote, and you were struck by the national spread, of course with an indicative concentration in Manicaland, Madhuku’s province…But Madhuku has some following in cities, themselves locales for politics of the futures…” wrote Manheru on March 23.

Madhuku formed the NCA together with former ally Morgan Tsvangirai in a bid to usher in a new constitution.

But with Tsvangirai siding with Mugabe in the just- ended referendum, Madhuku’s aspirations were severely dented, leaving speculators pointing towards his next move widely believed to be a political party which they say could be launched after elections expected later this year.

Don’t miss Thursday’s edition for Gwisai’s full interview.

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