Zimbabwe’s new kid on the political block, the People's Democratic Party’s inaugural congress ended in Harare Friday with the party saying it will enter into coalition with other opposition parties and form broad alliances as it seeks to dislodge President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF from power.
Speaking at the end of the congress, newly elected People’s Democratic Party leader, Tendai Biti, whose party was until this week known as MDC-Renewal, committed to transform Zimbabwe, citing the PDP’s unique strength and niche.
He said his party will work to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans, by revamping the economy through its Holistic Program for Economic Transformation (HOPE) and Agenda for the Restoration and Rehabilitation of Electoral Sustainability (Arest) adopted at the congress.
“We are very strong as a movement in terms of ideas and policies,” said Biti.
“You have already seen the policies that we have written and crafted; Arrest and Hope. We are already crafting a forty-year vision for Zimbabwe called Ideas. We occupy that niche so that we can give ideas to the opposition movement that can move Zimbabwe forward.”
The PDP leader said he would work with any party willing to be part of a broad coalition to help break Zanu-PF’s 35-year rule and influence.
“The biggest challenge is how to get out of this dungeon prison brought about by 35years of Zanu PF misrule. We will ensure a coalition is built. We must create a social movement. It's no longer about political parties. Political parties tried and reached their limit,” said Biti.
Delegate Munetsi Tineyi applauded Biti’s team for its efforts in coming up with its own economic blueprints.
“We had lost hope and the direction where we are going. From what we have read from the HOPE document it is starting to bring back hope that this country will be restored again economically and there is an issue employment in the document which is so bright,” said Munetsi.
However, despite his ambitious plans and reception by some, not all delegates were happy with the Congress outcome, particularly the nominations of candidates, which included the appointment of Samuel Siphepa Nkomo as vice president, Lucia Matibenga and Watchy Sibanda as chair and vice chair respectively; Gorden Moyo as the Secretary General, Solomon Madzore as Organising Secretary, and Jacob Mafume as party spokesperson.
Youth wing groups from Manicaland, Masvingo in Mashonaland West, Bulawayo and Matebeleland, raised objection to the oversight given to members from their provinces for some top posts.
Thomas Mukweyo from Manicaland, for example, cited the treasury position given to Benison Ntini, which he felt should have gone to his deputy, Julius Magaramombe.
“His position isn't fair and free. At first he was appointed as a committee member then he was appointed as a vice treasurer. This is what displeased us. We told the issue to the leaders and they have agreed to meet with us after the congress,” Mukweyo said.
To calm the crowd, the party’s vice president Siphepa Nkomo promised to look into their grievances.
“I do know that after every elections if there is a complaint we need to resolve the problem,” said Nkomo.
“We will quickly address the complaints. The complaints themselves legitimate as they may be must not hold us from moving forward.”
The PDP ended with the adoption of a new constitution which stipulates that all party leaders will be elected and not automatically nominated to represent the party in elections, that all leaders will declare their assets and consent to an audit, all members will be subject to a two-term limit.
The PDP also resolved to work with all African nations and organizations on the continent as well as the international community.