Some of you (probably not very many) may be wondering about the ruckus that is apparently on the verge of tearing apart the main Zimbabwean opposition movement, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It revolves around whether or not to take part in upcoming elections for the about-to-be-recreated senate.
For arguments about whether or not the MDC should take part in these elections, there is a thumbnail sketch of both sides here.
The argument pits Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, against the majority of his Executive. I am not a member of the MDC, but my own view is that, as a parliamentary opposition, they should take part in the same way that they took part in the parliamentary elections in March, to which similar objections were raised.
In principle, I'd say that if a political party has decision-making processes that are broadly regarded by the membership as fair, then healthy, open debate up until the point of decision-making is a good thing, but once a decision has been made according to fair criteria, members should acknowledge its legitimacy, even if they disagree with it. Any subsequent dissent from that decision should be seen as just that – a dissenting opinion.
The problem for the MDC is that, while the main decision-making body of the party voted narrowly in favour of participation, I suspect that the majority of the party base supports Tsvangirai's position that the whole Senate thing is a fraud. Again, my own view is that a bicameral system is a better inheritance than a unicameral system.
On a (tenuously) related matter, the UN bookshop in New York sells a little item called the World Satistics Pocketbook, which I picked up a few days ago. It has a host of economic and social statistics listed by country. The last two countries in the 2005 edition are Zambia (page 210) and Zimbabwe (page 211).
Here are some comparative statistics:
Exchange rate versus US$
Zambia: 1995=956.13 9/2004=4,906.14
Zimbabwe: 1995=9.31 9/2004=5,616.38
Consumer price index (1990=100)
Zambia: 1995=3,381 8/2004=23,672
Zimbabwe: 1995=335 4/2004=109,280
Industrial production index (1995=100)
Zambia: 1995=100 2003=105
Zimbabwe: 1995=100 2003=80
Food production index (1999-2000=100)
Zambia: 1995=86 2003=107
Zimbabwe: 1995=67 2003=87
UPDATE: Re the last line of this post of Norm's, so do I, even though it appears to be a minority position.