MDC was formed in September 1999 but the process of the foundation of the party had began during the early 1990s. It was formed under the stewardship of the ZCTU which was by then led by Morgan Tsvangirai, Gibson Sibanda and Gift Chimanikire, which had been critical of ZANU PF's especially after the adoption of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPSs) in 1991. In January 1999, leaders of the ZCTU corroborating with leaders of the National Constitution Assembly (NCA)organised a National Worker's People's Convention in Chitungwiza. The main thrust of the convention was to address the challenges faced by workers as a result of the adoption of SAPs. In May 1999, another convention was held and the idea of forming a political party was mooted and the ZCTU was mandated to form a party. The rationale of the formation of the party was aptly spelt out as
When workers earn a living wage and decent working conditions through industrial action at the work place, they will go beyond the shop floor and bring their issue to the national stage, thus politicising the issuesTsvangirai was the president of the party, deputised by Sibanda, Welshman Ncube was the Secretary General, Chimanikire was the Deputy Secretary and Fletcher Dulini was the National Treasurer. The party gained its support from the urban population. It also attracted the support of white commercial farmers and because of this Mugabe criticised the party as being 'a puppet party' premised to reverse the gains of the independence. Aims and Objectives of the Party
- To be an all inclusive, dynamic political party with a truly national base and which shall seek to win political power and form a government of the people through free, fair and direct elections.
- To seek the mandate of the people to govern the country and work for a dynamic economy built on principles of mixed economy with a strong social conscience.
- To build an open democracy in which national government is accountable to the people through the devolution of power and decision making to the provinces, local institutions and structures.
- To seek equal representation of women as far as possible in public office and within the party.
In 2000, the party campaigned for the 'No Vote' in the 2000 Constitutional Referendum. During the 2000, the electoral support of ZANU PF was trailing off to such an extent that during the 2000 general elections, MDC got nearly 50% of the parliamentary seats. In 2002, during the presidential elections, it has been reported that hundred thousands of known suspected supporters of MDC were killed by members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and ZANU PF youth militias. It was also reported that, the elections were highly rigged and this triggered international outcry which saw the country being labelled as a pariah state. The Split
Problems within the MDC began in August 2000. During the August 2000 MDC District Workshop, it was highlighted that, certain MDC officials were sabotaging the party. Intimidations from ZANU PF also posed challenges to MDC and the major organisational response of MDC to the repressive political environment was to create a parallel structure within the party. Activities of this structure resulted in major problems of accountability and violence within the party and it also became a site of the struggle for power between Tsvangirai and Ncube. In 2004, skirmishes occurred at the party's headquarters (Harvest House) and most of the MDC officials argued that Ncube was behind this as he had long been harbouring sentiments of being the leader of the party subsequently resulting in the split of the party.
Notwithstanding this, some scholars have also opined that, MDC experienced turbulent factionalism between 2004 and 2005 in which two clusters had emerged within the party. The first cluster which was aligned to Tsvangirai was comprised of trade unionists who had done the spade work for the formation of the party. The other cluster which was aligned to Ncube consisted of professionals and middle class intellectuals as well as careerists who came into the party at the opportune time to occupy key positions. These two clusters had their major clash in 2005 over whether or not to participate in the Senate election held in 2005. The party subsequently split into two MDC formations, that is MDC-M which was led by Arthur Mutambara who was later replaced by Ncube and MDC-T led by Tsvangirai. Diff/MDC References
- L. M. Sachikonye, Zimbabwe's Lost Decade: Politics, Development & Society, African Books Collective, published:2012,retrieved:18 December 2014"
- Brian Raftopolous, The Politics of the Movement for Democratic Change, New Zimbabwe, published:11 Dec 2009,retrieved:18 December 2014"
- Maurice Nyamanga Amutabi and Shadrack Wanjala Nasong'o, Regime Change and Succession Politics in Africa: Five Decades of Misrule, Routledge, published:2013,retrieved:18 December 2014"