Tsvangirai, Biti talks in limbo

COALITION talks between MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured) and his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart Tendai Biti are reportedly on the verge of collapse amid reports Biti is demanding the 21 parliamentary seats he took away with him when he broke ranks with the MDC-T in 2014.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

The former Premier in the unity government was reportedly working around the clock to put together a formidable coalition that he believes would help him unseat Zanu PF’s President Robert Mugabe in next year’s elections.

But, the process was reportedly dogged by disagreements over who will lead the coalition and the sharing of parliamentary seats, among other topical issues.

Informed sources told NewsDay yesterday that Biti’s demands could stall the alliance talks, as Tsvangirai was allegedly insisting that the PDP leader lost the seats when he and his fellow “rebel legislators” were expelled from MDC-T and recalled from Parliament.

“Biti has demanded the 21 seats as part of the bargain. He wants Tsvangirai to guarantee that these seats will be left to the PDP representatives at the elections next year,” a source said.

“On the other hand, Tsvangirai and his negotiators are not totally against the idea, but they have thrown in the (MDC leader) Welshman Ncube angle.”

Tsvangirai and Ncube have inked a pre-election pact in which the MDC leader was allegedly promised a few seats in Harare and Bulawayo with the MDC-T claiming the bulk of the contested seats.

Contacted for comment, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu would not “disclose details” of discussions between the two parties.

“The finer details of discussions towards the coalition will not be discussed in newspapers before they are finalised,” Gutu said.

“We will make an announcement on what would have been agreed when the time is right. For now, let us give the process a chance and allow the negotiators to arrive at a logical conclusion.”

PDP spokesman Jacob Mafume would neither deny nor confirm the development.

“We need to agree on the principle of a coalition and the ultimate goal of removing (President Robert) Mugabe as well as the Zanu PF system,” Mafume said.

“As regards specific details of discussions, these remain confidential until the coalition proper is put together.”

In 2015, the MDC-T triggered by-elections in 21 constituencies mostly in Harare and Bulawayo after the expulsion of Biti and his camp following their acrimonious fallout with Tsvangirai over the outcome of the 2013 harmonised elections.

Zanu PF won all the by-elections after the MDC-T boycotted the elections, culminating in other opposition parties accusing Tsvangirai of donating the seats to Mugabe.

It is understood that Biti was unsure of how to deal with National People’s Party leader Joice Mujuru following her axing from Zanu PF and the subsequent fall-out with former lieutenants Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo.

“It’s difficult to make a decision because Mujuru does not look decided,” a senior PDP official said.

“She might rejoin Zanu PF or agree with Tsvangirai. Her idea is to join with Biti and then bargain from a stronger position with Tsvangirai.

“But there is an uneasiness given she has failed to implement some agreements she made with Biti previously. We would rather join hands with Tsvangirai than go the longer route.” – NewsDay