History: MDC- A Comprehensive History 2

MDC Restart Program 2004

Restart was a five-year program situated within the context of the MDC’s overall policies. These policies have were developed from the National Working People’s Convention in 1999, and at subsequent MDC congresses. It replaced the MDC’s earlier economic blueprints such as Bridge which formed a key element of the 2002 presidential election campaign.

2006 Watershed Congress

Between the 16th and 19 March 2006 the MDC held its watershed congress and substantial resolutions were passed, peaceful and democratic means to push the aged dictator out were to be the hallmark of the future. That congress adopted a road-map to legitimacy whose signposts and benchmarks saw the final the party regaining its influence in the country’s political landscape.

The splits

In 2005 the party split into two factions because of a disagreement emanating from whether it would participate in that year’s Senatorial elections. The bigger faction was led by Morgan Tsvangirai called MDC-T and the smaller one called MDC led by Professor  Arthur Mutambara  until 2011 when Professor Welshman Ncube  took over. In 2010, another major break-up occurred when Job Sikhala pulled out of the party due to some ideological clashes with the likes of Welshman Ncube and Arthur Mutambara. Despite the splits which marred the party, the MDC T formation has remained relatively stronger than all of its break away parties which struggling to maintain good followings. After the presidential elections of 2013, another split occurred when Tendai Biti and other cadres pulled out of the party to form what they termed the MDC Renewal Team. Biti was supported by a number of senior members including Elton Mangoma the former minister of energy during the Government of National Unity era.

Government of National Unity

In 2008, Tsvangirai won his first ever presidential election with 47,9% against Robert Mugabe’s 43,2%. However the law required one to have at least 51% to become president so they had to be a run-off election which Tsvangirai snubbed because of alleged violence against his supporters. The MDC-T, ZANU PF and the smaller MDC signed an Agreement on 13 February 2009 to ensure rule of law, Human Rights and media freedom after the disputed 2008 elections. The power-sharing deal saw Tsvangirai becoming Prime Minister and his party allocated some key ministries such as Finance and Energy.

Factions and Calls For Leadership Renewal

After the July 31 elections, some of the party officials like treasurer general Roy Bennet and Ian Kay has openly called for Tsvangirai to step down as MDC leader. In January 2014 Mangoma joined the fray by writing a letter to Tsvangirai saying, “…It is my humble submission that at this juncture, you consider leaving the office of the president”. This angered party loyalists leading to Mangoma’s assault in February 2014. Mangoma accused Tsvangirai for setting him up.  MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti who is also fingered in the leadership renewal plot, escaped unhurt at the assault incident but had his house petrol-bombed by unknown assailants on February 24, 2014. For the first time since he had been advised to step down, Tsvangirai on March 2, 2014 said the MDC may consider holding an early congress to solve the leadership disputes. The party is supposed to hold an extra ordinary congress in 2016 were a new leadership will be elected.

Structure and Constitution

The MDC-T has a democratic constitution which advocates for universal suffrage both at party and at national level. All leaders are elected by the electorate. This constitution has sections which specifically guide conduct of party leaders, electoral conduct, leadership and succession. The party structure is as follows;

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Secretary General
  • National Coordinating Secretary
  • National Youth Chairperson.
  • National Treasurer
  • Party Spokesperson
  • Provincial Chairperson
  • District Chairperson

The Congress is the supreme organ of the Party and is composed of all members of the National Council, National Executive of Women, National Executive of Youth, Provincial Executive Committees, the Chairperson, Secretary, Organizing Secretary and Treasurer from each District Executive Committee and Provincial and District levels of the National Assemblies of Women and Youth and external assemblies, the Chairperson of each Ward Executive Committee and all the party’s elected members of the house of Assembly, Mayors and chairpersons of local Authorities. The congress meets once every five years, provided that an Extra-Ordinary Congress can be convened, at any time, in accordance with the provisions of the Party’s Constitution. Below are the key structures which build up the the congress;

  • The National Council
  • The National Standing Committee
  • National Executive
  • The Province Executive Council
  • The District Executive Committee
  • The Ward
  • The Branch
  • The Youth Assembly
  • The Women’s Assembly.


The MDC-T was founded on strong Christian principles although it embraces other religions such as African Traditional Religion and Islam. Morgan Tsvangirai the president once made statements which showed his tolerance for same sex marriages. His stance was however criticized by the majority including his fellow leaders in the MDC party. The party has remained divided on the issue of same sex marriages. However, considering the need to maintain good relations with the west and USA, the party has never denounced same sex marriages as compared to ZANU PF’s Robert Mugabe who is know for his utter hatred of same sex marriages. In terms of foreign policy, the MDC-T seems to have good relations with the European. It has has in the past denounced the eastern countries such as China. It has strongly condemned corruption especially in government. However the party failed to put the gospel into practice during the GNU era when some of its leaders were fingered in corruption allegations.

Voter Base

MDC-T enjoys majority support in most urban areas such as Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru. This is mainly because the party has captured the hearts of professionals especially those employed in the civil service most of whom are urban dwellers. The party also enjoys support from the youths who are fanatics of the 21 century democratic tendencies which the party endeavors to offer. Before the 2013 elections, the MDC-T had almost all the parliament seats in Harare and Bulawayo cities. The party also enjoyed 100% dominance between 2000 and 2007 in the Matabeleland provinces. After the 2013 elections, ZANU PF had only 6 seats in parliament in Harare and the rest well taken by MDC-T.


It has emerged that one of the fundamental flaws of the MDC-T party is its lack of a coherent ideology. Since its formation, the party failed to capitalize on the economic decline of the country to offer the people a readily crafted ideology. Instead, the MDC-T campaign trail has been based on criticizing the ruling party instead of crafting an ideology which could be adopted by the people. Furthermore, the party has also been infested with factionalism tendencies and this is witnessed by the 3 major break-ups in the party from its formation. In its early years, MDC-T was identified with violence tendencies which saw the burning of houses, killing of people including police officers, burning of buses and destruction of private properties. Another major criticism was that the party was formed with the influence of the west especially Britain. Thus its campaign has been hitched on the need to safeguard the interests of the elitist white minority instead of the majority Zimbabweans.


The 2013 Manifesto

The MDC-T launched its manifesto which worked as its campaign handbook during the period towards the controversial 2013 elections. The constitution is available of the party’s website


Juice was an economic framework crafted by the party during the period of the GNU. The MDC’s jobs plan entitled Jobs, Upliftment Investment Capital and the Environment (JUICE) was a comprehensive plan for the generation of decent jobs that was meant not only end poverty but also empower citizens. JUICE advocated for a Broad Based Economic (BBE) upliftment of citizens by expanding people’s choices in attaining sustainable livelihoods not through asset striping and looting


Conditions for a Sustainable Election in Zimbabwe (CoSEZ) was crafted with the need to call for the neighbouring countries names Zambia, South Africa and Botswana to ensure that a conducive environment exists before, during and after elections.

Boycotting Elections

The party resolved in April 2014 that it would boycott future elections (by elections)citing irregularities associated with the election processes. It must be noted that, the party had long been affiliated with the issue of boycotting by elections but it publicly announced that it was no longer going to participate in any by elections in April 2014. In 2008, the Chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, Lovemore Madhuku  warned the party of imminent splits after the party boycotted to contest in the by elections for the Zaka East parliamentary seat which fell vacant after the death of Tinos Rusere in the same year.

The ousted National Organising Secretary of the Party, Nelson Chamisa stated that, the party was to only participate in the by elections when a new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)  , which is currently led by Justice Rita Makarau is dissolved as it is non-partisan. Party officials argued that, their party was now playing second fiddle to the ZANU PF in urban areas, where the party used to have strong support bases. After the July 31st elections, many seats felt vacant and ZANU PF candidates won all of those seats.

On 13 January, the party reinforced its decision when it stated that it was not going to participate in the by elections slated for 27 March to fill in the parliamentary seats (Mount Darwin West and Chirimanzu-Zibangwe) which became vacant after the reappointment of Joice Mujuru as the Vice President of the country who was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa after the 6th ZANU PF Congress which was held in December 2014. The party’s spokesperson, Obert Gutu said,

Our position is that we will not participate in any by election as long as the conditions that we have been complaining about (access to the voters roll and the media) are still the same

Despite the fact that, the party views its stance as a noble one, the MDC faction led by Ncube has described the move as an act of cowardice.

Timeline of Major Events

  • 1999- Formation of the Party at Rufaro Stadium  in Harare.
  • 2000- MDC officially won 57 seats against Zanu PF’s 63.
  • 2005-The party won 41 seats of the 120 contested seats.
  • 2005- Break away by a faction led by Arthur Mutambara.
  • 2006- Watershed Elective Congress.
  • 2008- The party also won 41 out the 150 seats and had the majority of members in the house of Assembly.
  • 2008-2013 MDC-T was part of the Government of National Unity together with ZANU PF and MDC-M.
  • 2013- The party suffered a huge blow in 2013 by winning a meager 49 out of the 210 parliamentary seats.
  • 2014- Breakaway by Tendai Biti to form the MDC Renewal Team
  • 2014- MDC-T elective Congress held in Harare and Morgan Tsvangirai retained power as the president.



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

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