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Movement for Democratic Change
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was founded in 1999 as the official opposition party to the Zanu-PF party led by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. It was formed from many members of the broad coalition of civic society groups and individuals that campaigned for a No vote in the 2000 Constitutional referendum, in particular the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. It embraces liberal and other democratic forces.
In February 2000, Zanu-PF organised a constitutional referendum. The proposed change would have limited future presidents to two terms, but as it was not retroactive, Mugabe could have stood for another two terms. It would also have made his government and military officials immune from prosecution for any illegal acts committed while in office. Also, it allowed the government to confiscate white-owned land for redistribution to black farmers without compensation. It was defeated, after a low 20% turnout, by a strong urban vote, fuelled by an effective SMS campaign. Mugabe declared that he would "abide by the will of the people". The vote was a surprise to Zanu-PF, and an embarrassment before parliamentary elections due in mid-April. This success fuelled a meteoric rise in visibility to the very recently formed MDC.
In the 2000 parliamentary elections, the MDC won 57 of the 120 seats up for election. This marked the first time that an opposition party has achieved more than a handful of seats since the merger of Zanu-Pf and PF-Zapu 1988.
This election was viewed by international observers from the Commomwealth, Norwegian, and the South African Parliamentary Delegation as not being free and fair. Some missions such as the SADC observers and the South African Ministerial Observer team held that the election was substantially free and fair. The election is currently being challenged in the Zimbabwean Supreme court, 18 months after the election.
It announced during mid-2004 that it would not participate in any further elections in Zimbabwe, including the 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections until it believed a free and fair vote could take place. However on February 3, 2005, spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi told a news conference  "It is with a heavy heart that the MDC has decided to participate in the elections ... This is a decision based primarily on the demands of our people".
The MDC is a party that supports recognition of and protection from Zimbabwe's AIDS epidemic, economic liberalization through investment in rural infrastructure and privatization of selected government parastatals, a land-redistribution policy based upon the rule of law and a willing buyer/willing seller basis, and constitutional amendments limiting further the power of the executive branch of government.
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