HARARE – The opposition MDC is close to re-uniting ahead of next year’s elections with leaders of the party’s offshoots, Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti retracing their footsteps back to Morgan Tsvangirai’s labour-backed party.
With pressure piling on opposition parties to join forces if they are to entertain hopes of defeating President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Biti and Ncube — former allies turned foes — will launch their coalition at a rally in the capital on Saturday —albeit without former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Preparations for the launch of the coalition are already at an advanced stage with the negotiating teams from the seven parties involved, including Jacob Ngarivhume’s Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) and the Multiracial Party, among others holding their last meeting in the capital yesterday, culminating in today’s meeting of the principals and secretaries-general of their respective parties.
The spokesperson for the People’s Democratic Party, Jacob Mafume, confirmed the meetings, expressing hope that “all that needs to be concluded will be ready by end of this week”.
“We are working around the clock to ensure that we are done by weekend in preparation for the launch because we have other activities that need urgent attention such as voter registration,” Mafume said.
“We also have made significant progress in terms of coming up with a coalition of opposition forces but we also hope that those parties that are outside our current framework, including the NPP, will come on board so that this thing is put to rest and allow us to move on”.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu also weighed in saying “everything is going on according to schedule”.
“Our strategy is not to negotiate in the media nor in public so just be a little bit more patient,” Gutu said.
Ncube and Biti broke ranks with Tsvangirai in 2005 and 2014 respectively in acrimonious circumstances citing irreconcilable differences.
While Ncube did not agree with Tsvangirai on whether or not to participate in the 2005 senatorial elections, Biti broke away citing the need for leadership renewal following the MDC’s loss to Zanu PF in the 2013 elections.
Sources close to the coalition negotiations told the Daily News that Tsvangirai, Biti and Ncube were all suspicious of Mujuru’s real intentions.
It was not difficult for Tsvangirai his party’s former “renegade secretaries-general”, sources say, to bury the hatchet mainly because “while they don’t agree on several other issues, they trust each other on the basis that they think none of them is a Zanu PF project”.
The mutual trust that exists among them has seen them meet regularly in the last two months as they sought to find each other.
“This is an idea that has been on the front burner of the three leaders since last year because everybody has always suspected that Mujuru could be harbouring ambitions to go back to Zanu PF and when she vacillates as she is currently doing, not seeing the urgency of the matter when deadlines are given, it only helps to vindicate those who have been suspicious”.
While signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ngarivhume at his Highlands residence in Harare last month, Tsvangirai had given himself up to yesterday to conclude all coalition talks.
“You are aware that since December 2016, we have been engaged in the current narrative of coalition building and I must say that it has been almost one-and-a-half years now that we have engaged in this process, we believe that the coalition is important for pursuing a transformative agenda that will see this country transition from the nationalist phase.
“ . . . all coalition discussions should end by end of this month (July) and that the party should now engage in organisational work which is preparing for elections, continue with networking — building networks”, Tsvangirai said.
Ncube admitted that suspicion over the sincerity of the political party leaders was making it difficult to come up with a coalition and that Zimbabweans generally think that the MDCs only should come together.
“I know this is a view that is gaining a lot of traction on the ground, especially if the views being expressed on social media are anything to go by,” Ncube said.
“Obviously, without suspicions about whether we are all sincere or not this thing (coalition) would have been easy to bring about.
“However, we would want to give each other the benefit of doubt and that is why you see as a way of an example, MDC-T signed an MoU with Transform Zimbabwe if we did not have the spirit of including all that would not be possible,” he added.
Speaking to the Daily News last week Biti confirmed meeting Tsvangirai recently to discuss how to go about coming with the mooted grand coalition.
“It is not a secret that I met with MDC president . . . Tsvangirai on the 9th of June to discuss the issue of (a) coalition and I must say while the idea of uniting only former MDCs did not come up, I think it is an idea worth pursuing,” Biti said.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, was not available for a comment as his mobile phone was unreachable. – Daily News