Tsvangirai misses coalition deadline

The late MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and one of his Deputies Nelson Chamisa
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HARARE – MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has missed his self-imposed July 31 (today) deadline for the formation of a grand coalition of opposition political parties that is supposed to challenge Zanu PF in next year’s elections.

Although MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu could not shed light on why the deadline has been missed, sources privy to the ongoing talks among the fragmented political parties said the deal is far from being completed.

But Gutu was evasive saying they will not discuss progress of the coalition talks through the media.

“We don’t negotiate in the public but I can disclose through your paper that within the next few days, people are going to receive good news. People are going to be jumping up and down with jubilation with the developments that we are going to announce in the next few days,” Gutu said, without giving further details on the expected developments.

While signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe at his residence in Highlands, Harare, Tsvangirai disclosed that July 31 would be the opposition parties’ deadline.

In the build-up to this coalition Tsvangirai had already signed similar agreements with National People’s Party (NPP) leader, Joice Mujuru and the MDC faction leader Welshman Ncube.

The former prime minister in the inclusive government said that his party’s national executive had agreed that coalition discussions should be finalised by end of July, as they are racing against time.

“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 to the democratic phase.

“…all coalition discussions should end by end of this month and that the party should now engage in organisational work which is preparing for elections, continue with networking, building networks…,” he said.

There is a general consensus by almost all opposition political parties that a coalition is the only way to go in terms of achieving their goal to democratically remove Mugabe from power.

Mugabe has been in power over the past 37 years since the country got its independence from Britain. The parties believe that going into an election as a divided lot, would split the votes in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.

The opposition political parties have, however, been haggling over who should lead the coalition, with independent observers calling for a neutral candidate or a mediator to address the impasse.

However, Tsvangirai, who leads the country’s biggest opposition political party, is tipped to lead a grand coalition that is set to battle it out with Mugabe’s Zanu PF in next year’s elections, because of his experience on the opposition front and the number of his supporters across the country.

Tsvangirai, the only leader who has ever won an election against Mugabe since 1980, was denied outright victory in 2008, after failing to get the 50 percent plus one vote. Tsvangirai won the presidential election by 47 percent of the votes, while Mugabe got 43 percent.

Mujuru on the other hand, has been demanding to lead the coalition, arguing that she is experienced considering her time in government and that she has war credentials.