MDC policy conference seeks renewal

HARARE - A billboard of a smiling Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reminds Milton Park residents his MDC party will hold an important meeting down the road today to shape the future of Zimbabwe.

But behind the giant poster, people see little to smile about: potholed, dirty roads and rampant unemployment speak volumes about the party’s failings since it entered a coalition government in 2009.

The MDC eighth annual policy conference will run from today to May 19, at Jubilee Christian Centre in Milton Park under the theme “Towards Real Transformation”.

This is “a critical and defining conference” as it comes shortly before Zimbabwe holds its watershed election says the MDC.

Tsvangirai won a fresh term as leader of the MDC at the 3rd congress in Zimbabwe’s second biggest city of Bulawayo, putting him on a path to stand as presidential candidate for the forthcoming watershed polls.
The conference comes at a time when some traditional MDC high profile supporters are breaking ranks with the party.

“I think that most of the leaders of the MDC-T no longer look at the interests of the people,” said Lovemore Madhuku, who heads the National Constitutional Assembly, which is agitating for people-driven constitutional reform.

“They are more interested in entrenching their own positions.”

In some ways, the MDC has made great strides, restoring vital services like water, sanitation, health care and education — which had virtually collapsed after years of economic meltdown blamed on Mugabe.

The party has admitted that members running local governments are often not up to the task, sacked some for corruption and set up an integrity committee to hold them accountable.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora says the party will unveil its policy documents and agenda for action that it has been working on for the past four years.

The policy conference will officially launch the Jobs Upliftment Investment Capital Environment (Juice) economic blueprint — an ambitious $100-billion economic stimulus package that aims to make Zimbabwe’s economy robust once the MDC takes power by creating one million jobs by 2018, increasing economic growth rates exponentially, further reducing inflation, delivering a $100-billion economy by 2040, improving electricity generation and building a social contract.

“Topics that will be discussed during the conference include job creation, infrastructure development and social service delivery,” he said. “The agenda for action has been prepared internally in the party following various intense deliberations under the leadership of president Tsvangirai.”

The party’s youth and women wings hope the policy conference will restore the party’s battered image and that the pledges for renewal and action would lead to concrete change.

Promise Mkwananzi, secretary-general of the MDC youth assembly said youths expect robust deliberations to fine-tune policies before the elections.

“In particular, we are very confident that the final policy will be youth friendly,” Mkwananzi told the Daily News.

“We must come up with an answer to Zimbabwe`s economic challenges, particularly the problems of liquidity, unemployment, re-industrialisation and capital growth.”

The main hall was decked out in the MDC’s red colours and the party’s flag and will accommodate thousands of delegates and hundreds of reporters.

The delegates will consist of branch representatives, national council and executive committee members, the MDC’s youth and women wings, its alliance partners in civil society, diplomats, foreign political organisations, deployees and business representatives.

Mwonzora said today’s session would start with an address by Tsvangirai and inputs would be received party’s policy secretaries who are expected to give their overview on their respective policies and how they dovetail and complement each other into the main party policy. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor


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