Second opposition coalition emerges

HARARE – Another coalition of opposition parties — which are offshoots of the ruling Zanu PF party — could emerge ahead of polls in 2018 to take on President Robert Mugabe, whose party is already scheming against another alliance consummated over the weekend, under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai.

By Fungi Kwaramba

The Daily News can report that opposition parties that were left out of the weekend pact are unlikely to smoke a peace pipe with Tsvangirai’s grouping because of their entrenched differences, and are already making overtures towards conglomerating under a parallel initiative to be negotiated through the Coalition for Democrats (Code).

Joice Mujuru, the former vice president and leader of the National People’s Party (NPP), is tipped to lead the parallel initiative even though her formation is not a signatory of Code.

Mujuru, who had a tiff with Tsvangirai over the leadership of the coalition, was conspicuous by her absence at the MDC Alliance weekend rally, which nominated the former trade unionist to lead the alliance.

Tsvangirai has gone to bed with parties led by his former secretaries-general, namely Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Welshman Ncube’s smaller MDC formation.

He also received the thumbs up from Transform Zimbabwe, under Jacob Ngarivhume; Zimbabwe People First, led by Agrippa Mutambara; Zanu Ndonga and the Multi-Racial Christian Democratic Party.

The MDC leader’s supporters and those he went to bed with over the weekend are resolute that Tsvangirai should lead the coalition, while those lining behind Mujuru are questioning why they should trust a man who has previously failed to end Mugabe’s rule.

Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa has already made it clear that his party will not be joining Tsvangirai or the MDC. The former Zipra intelligence supremo, who, along with former Finance minister Simba Makoni, broke ranks with Zanu PF in early 2008 to form Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) party, averred recently that they were negotiations their coalition under Code, which Tsvangirai and his group had refused to be part of.

As such, Dabengwa — who now leads Zapu — does not see why they should depart from Code to join the MDC Alliance even though other Code members such as Ncube’s MDC and the PDP are now working with Tsvangirai.

Those in Code who are not part of the MDC Alliance include MKD, the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ), the Zimbabweans United for Democrats and the Democratic Assembly for Restoration Empowerment.

“Did you want us to dump our parties to join an MDC alliance when we do not even know what they are up to and what their strategy is?” Dabengwa was recently quoted saying, rhetorically.

“ . . . They decided to form their own coalition so should we also jump ship and join them? We are not MDC. This is MDC going back to MDC”, said Dabengwa.

Yesterday, leader of the RDZ, Elton Mangoma, said they will only accept a leader who is ready to work under Code and with a supreme council.

“We have Code as a coalition that is already in place but it can be improved to accommodate all. We have since drafted the framework, which we have since given to parties and adopted,” said Mangoma.

“We therefore really don’t care about who will lead the coalition as long as they are committed to having a supreme council that will ensure there we will not be situations where the leader will use his power to pursue those who did not back his or her presidency whether it’s Tsvangirai or whoever.

“The supreme council will also be a conflict resolution platform for the coalition partners and address the issues and vaccinate against likely mischief, including unilateralism, overruling collective decisions, non-implementation of agreed positions, policy deviations, lack of integrity, unreliability and violence,” added Mangoma.

Mujuru has lately been weighing her options and recently, she tried to sign an agreement with parties uniting under Code only stopping short of putting pen to paper for undisclosed reasons.

NPP secretary-general elect, Gift Nyandoro, said while the parties might be having problems over leadership — there is agreement that the grand coalition is the best way forward.

“Let us see the parties that are coming to our convention. I can speak with authority that we need each other, of all the notable parties there is a consensus that we need each other, of course they may be differences on leadership but those sticking points will be resolved,” said Nyandoro.

According to sources, Dabengwa feels belittled by Tsvangirai and is considering working closely with Mujuru, Makoni and Mangoma.

Political analysts were unanimous yesterday that the disunity within the country’s opposition parties could result in two coalitions emerging.

Shakespeare Hamauswa, an analyst, opined yesterday that what is emerging is a manifestation of complicated political gamesmanships in the country’s body politic with the whole opposition if not all political parties likely to explode.

“The recent violence in MDC-T therefore indicates how the opposition is highly divided. The absence of (Thokozani) Khupe of MDC-T is not the only sign since in other parties like PDP the likes of Gordon Moyo are against the MDC Alliance,” said Hamauswa. “So in light of coalition talks, we are going to see at least two big coalitions of opposition parties. Khupe and team might join hands with Simba Makoni, Dabengwa, Mujuru and Priscilla Misihairabwi”.

He was referring to the violence that engulfed the MDC on Sunday after suspected thugs from the country’s main opposition party stormed a meeting that was being attended by the party’s vice president Khupe in Bulawayo.

Although Tsvangirai has condemned the violence, there is growing disquiet in his party over Khupe’s close ties with Mujuru.

Incidentally, both Khupe and Mujuru did not attend the MDC grand coalition rally on Saturday but behind the scenes the two have been meeting, under the Women Convergence Platform which is coordinated by Misihairabwi.

Although, Mujuru, Khupe and Misihairabwi have in the past denied that they would want to challenge male dominance in politics, they have not disputed choruses to the effect that time has come for a woman to take over power.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme also said the likely scenario would be the creation of two coalitions.

“That scenario is likely. The Tsvangirai one will be a reunited MDC while the Mujuru one will be a Zanu PF faction that broke away. The real coalition will be when the reunited MDC coalesce with the Mujuru Zanu PF breakaway faction but that is a long shot,” he said.

But MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu was hopeful yesterday that all parties would eventually unite under Tsvangirai’s leadership.

“The MDC Alliance is a formidable force. Actually, there will be more political parties joining this alliance. Political negotiations are ongoing and please, never, ever rule out the possibility of having only one formidable opposition alliance to face Zanu PF in next year’s elections. As they say, a day in politics is very long. Just watch the space,” said Gutu. – Daily News