History Monday : MDC -A Comprehensive History 1

The Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T) formerly just the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is the main opposition party in Zimbabwe formed in an era of economic melt down and political unrest in 1999. The party was part of the Zimbabwe’s Government of National Unity (or just the inclusive government) between 2008 and 2013. It’s visibility and influence reduced after losing the 2013 Presidential and Parliamentary elections to ZANU-PF. The party is led Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been president of the party since its founding.


The party believes in Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism. It draws much of its political ideas from western democracy which advocates for freedom of association, majority rule, freedom of press, freedom of movement among other things.

Party Colors and Slogans

A palm hand is part of the MDC-T Slogan. The MDC party is identified, by and large by its red colors. The colors usually come with the face of its president Morgan Tsvangirai or any party leader of a respective constituency. The party’s slogan “Chinja in Shona and Guqula in Ndebele language, and it involves the raising of an open hand palm which the supporters define as a symbol for change.

Formation and History

The history of the MDC  as a party can be traced back to 26 February 1999. This was after a group of about 700 men and women from all walks of life had gathered to enact the party structures and map their way into Zimbabwe’s political fraternity. They set up various committees and sub committees to examine a whole gamut of Zimbabwean issues, only to resolve that the only way out was the need to challenge Zanu PF politically. The party was officially launched in September 1999 at Rufaro Stadium in Harare.

Most of the leaders who took part in the formation were trade unionists from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions  (ZCTU), student leaders, white commercial farmers, academics and intellectuals and youths. Gibson Sibanda who became vice president of the party was also an ardent member of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. The MDC was then formed on the basis of carrying on the struggle of the people; the struggle for food and jobs; peace; dignity, decency and democracy; equal distribution of resources; and justice, transparency and equality of all Zimbabweans.

A combination of labor movements and the civic society then came chipped in later to formalize and strengthen the the party structures with Morgan Tsvangirai  being the president. In 2000 the party made history by becoming the first opposition party to won a handful of seats against ZANU PF winning 57 out of the 120 House of Assembly seats. The basis of the MDC was not merely one of popular discontent with the (ZANU PF) executive but an explicit agenda to democratize the state through a peaceful transition


At its formation, the MDC was funded, by and large, by a group of white commercial farmers who wanted to secure their land from invasion by the War Veterans through the agrarian revolution which was beginning to take a more militant stance against them. Multi-national and local companies which sympathized with the white commercial farmers also helped the party financially. It was also reported that the MDC also received funding from the European Union, The British and the U.S governments who were keen on seeing the end of Robert Mugabe rule which was described foreign media as dictatorial.

The Inaugural Congress

On 26 January 2000, the party held its inaugural congress at Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex . This congress endorsed Morgan Tsvangirai to run as the president of the party in the impending elections. A constitution for the party was adopted. The ruling ZANU PF immediately entrenched political violence as a political culture, leading to dozens of deaths and massive displacements of the poor in the rural areas. The situation remains unchanged to this day.


  1. Pindula (2016) ‘Movement of Democratic Change’

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