South Africa and Zimbabwe

One of the many things we did not do right in 2000 when we formed the MDC and took on the Zanu PF monolith, was to stop and think through the regional context in which we were operating. I cannot recall this subject coming up in any of our early meetings or training sessions. It was a serious error and we paid for it many times over in the following 14 years.

South Africa did not make that mistake – when we won the February 2000 referendum and went on to nearly defeat the ruling Party in the June elections, they set up a special group to analyse the situation in Zimbabwe and to decide on a policy approach to our affairs. This group was headed by the then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and had on it several people with specialist knowledge and interest. They concluded that the MDC, a labour based movement, was a threat to the ANC Alliance made up of the ANC, Cosatu (the South African Federation of Trade Unions) and the SACP.

They concluded that if the MDC was allowed to take power in Zimbabwe and made a success of their new responsibilities, that this would encourage a restive labour movement in South Africa to leave the ANC Alliance and fight the next elections on their own…