HARARE – The mooted grand coalition of opposition political parties has been hit by severe turbulence, with observers saying it could suffer a stillbirth owing to disagreements on the implementation of the complex arrangement that many believe is the only way to end Zanu PF’s over three decades in power.
The opposition has been dogged by inter-party divisions over the mooted coalition, with two distinct groups — for and against the grouping — emerging.
From Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, to Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), there is serious discord over its implementation, with some divergent voices accusing party leaders of unilaterally deciding to enter the coalition.
PDP secretary-general, Gorden Moyo, announced last week that they had sacked Biti as leader of the opposition outfit, claiming Lucia Matibenga was now the new leader of the party, following a misunderstanding over the party’s decision to join the MDC Alliance — a political grouping of at least seven opposition parties set to battle it out with Mugabe’s Zanu PF in next year’s elections.
The disagreements over the coalition are not only restricted to the PDP, as the Tsvangirai-led MDC, has also been in a similar predicament, where some of the party members have been opposing the idea.
A section of the MDC — backed by Tsvangirai’s deputy for 11 years, Thokozani Khupe, and party chairperson Lovemore Moyo — is unhappy with the alliance, particularly the formulae adopted by its negotiators as the basis for allocating constituencies among the participating partners.
This saw Khupe and other top MDC officials boycotting the official launch of the MDC Alliance at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare in early August, including the Bulawayo launch at White City Stadium in the City of Kings in September.
With clearly less than 12 months to go to the next elections, the coalition has been wobbling, with no distinct conclusion having been made, creating chances that it might not come to fruition in time.
While the misunderstanding is emanating from a party level, the squabbling is also being escalated to inter-party with differences emerging on how to allocate seats equally between the parties involved.
In a statement, Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party (NPP), made it clear that it preferred an equal representation of all the political parties involved.
This alone will create problems, especially with parties like MDC, which might need a large stake for commanding the highest number of supporters in the opposition.
“NPP wants a coalition that has an all-inclusive; name, logo, symbol and slogan which are neutral and not derived from one or some of the coalescing parties,” NPP secretary-general Gift Nyandoro said in a statement, viewed as a direct attack on the use of the name MDC Alliance for the coalition.
The opposition political parties have also been squabbling on who must lead the coalition, posing serious headaches that have thrown the whole process in limbo.
“We need to field our best foot forward regardless of one’s former political party, remember we will be one new organisation. NPP wants all political parties to be treated equally during the whole negotiating process
“NPP wants the presidential candidate for the coalition to be selected through a democratic process and all political parties to support the single candidate for local government, National Assembly and presidential in totality,” Nyandoro said.
Speaking to journalists after his party’s general council meeting last week, Biti admitted that the issue of unity when it comes to the coalition had been a problem across all the political parties.
“We note that the idea of unity and the principle of unity seems to be causing a challenge in the country. It’s not just in the PDP. What is happening in the PDP is also happening in other alliance partners, particularly in the MDC, and we note that the challenges appear to be emanating from one region,” Biti said.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the parties are chasing too many shadows, which might not work in favour of the mooted coalition.
“It will be an act of God to have a strong, viable coalition that will unseat the incumbent under these circumstances. Some players in these opposition parties look like intelligence plants of Zanu PF. With Zanu PF imploding, a genuine strong coalition would have been a government-in-waiting.
“But for us to have a coalition, we need functional political parties, not squabbling political cliques and factions. How do they coalesce when their centres don’t hold?” Saungweme queried.
Another political analyst, Rashweat Mukundu, said while the coalition was a noble idea, it is facing serious hurdles owing to squabbling and personal egos.
“The coalition is a good idea for the opposition that is unfortunately running to ground because of personal ambitions and egos. It now appears that the coalitions are not based on any strategy nor alternative policy and issues affecting people but personal ambitions. And any idea or political agenda that reeks of egos and selfishness will be judged harshly by the people,” he said. – Daily News