ON our equivalent of 9/11, that is September 11, 1999, the MDC was launched in Harare by a combination of Western powers, white commercial farmers and industrialists opposed to Zanu-PF’s decision to acquire white-held farms without compensation.
This followed Government’s fallout with the Labour administration of Tony Blair that reneged on obligations to fund land reforms in Zimbabwe.
We call it 9/11 because the nascent opposition party went on to invite ruinous economic sanctions that are partly to blame for the prevailing cholera and typhoid outbreaks.
But that is a story for another day.
The MDC thus came onto the scene as an anti-thesis to Zanu-PF. Though the opposition party went on to give Zanu-PF a run for its money losing Election 2000 by only five seats after winning 57 constituencies to Zanu-PF’s 62 in the 120-member House of Assembly, MDC legislators adopted a habit of walking out of Parliament whenever the then president, Mr Robert Mugabe, officially opened the Legislature.
Suffice to say, this strategy of 18 years ago achieved nothing.
Almost two decades down the line, the MDC now with the suffix Alliance, is surprisingly still caught in that time warp.
Yesterday, the party’s legislators trooped out of Parliament as President Mnangagwa was about to give the State of the Nation Address which incorporated the legislative agenda for the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.
What the MDCA legislators hoped to achieve with that infantile stunt only they know, but they appeared oblivious to a few home truths;
Firstly, it is a fait accompli that Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is the duly-elected President of Zimbabwe for the next five years. Nothing will change that not even Chamisa’s planned mock inauguration.
Secondly, if there was any takeaway from the infamous youth interface rallies that were used to belabour the now incumbent President, it is that ED — as he is affectionately known — cannot be easily fazed.
Thirdly, for a party that spent the run-up to this year’s harmonised elections crying for so-called electoral reforms, it’s amazing that MDCA MPs appeared oblivious to the fact that any amendments to the Constitution or Electoral Act can only be done within the confines of Parliament and given their pathetically low numbers, they stand a better chance of getting Zanu-PF’s buy-in by conceding that they lost fair and square.
Yesterday’s stunt can only serve to harden the attitudes of hardliners within Zanu-PF.
If the MDCA keeps its puerile games, the five-year tenure will be up in no time, Election 2023 will soon be upon us with the same cry for reforms weeks before the election.
Fourth, Zanu-PF retained its two-thirds majority after garnering 145 seats to the MDCA’s 63 hence can easily get a quorum and command the requisite numbers to legally conduct Parliamentary business even without the MDCA.
If anything, yesterday’s attempted drama should inform the MDCA how insignificant they are in the scheme of things because after their walkout, their absence was hardly noticeable as Zanu-PF’s sheer numbers filled all the available seats leaving standing room only.
Fifth, rational Zimbabweans were naturally outraged by the MDCA’s self-serving behaviour in using taxpayers money to drive to Harare, getting booked into hotels only to walk out when the business for which they came to the capital at considerable cost to the taxpayer was about to begin.
We are left wondering if the same MPs will walk away should President Mnangagwa, as he did with the chiefs, hand over vehicles to the legislators?
Judging by the opposition MPs healthy appetites at State functions, we will not hold our breath!
Their level of hypocrisy should leave even the most ardent MDCA supporter cringing.