‘We wasted time fighting each other’ – Zimbabwe opposition parties

All the political parties' leaders chant an MDC Alliance slogan. Photo: ANA

Harare – Zimbabwe’s opposition parties have, for the first time, conceded that they wasted time fighting each other in the past and have nothing to show for it.

Speaking at a grand coalition signing ceremony at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare, on Saturday, the political parties’ leaders said they would only support main opposition party MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in next year’s elections, as they seek another chance of removing President Robert Mugabe ‑ in power for 37 years since independence ‑ from the country’s top position.

The opposition parties ‑ seven which signed the coalition agreement on Saturday before a crowd of about 3000 supporters ‑ indicated they would go into the watershed election under the name MDC Alliance.

Their leaders include Multi-racial Christian Democrats leader Mathias Guchutu, Tendai Biti (People’s Democratic Party), Jacob Ngarivhume (Transform Zimbabwe), Aerial Sakuinje (Zanu Ndonga), Agrippa Mutambara (Zimbabwe People First), Welshman Ncube (MDC), and Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai said for too long they had been in a “needless and unhealthy competition” as opposition political parties. Hence it was time to “come together again and complete the journey together”.

Respective supporters of the opposition parties should take a cue from their leaders and unite at grassroots level, he said.

“We are going in the hope that change is possible in our lifetime. We have embarked on a struggle to ensure democratisation is irreversible. Why have we wasted our efforts for the past 10 years fighting each other when we have achieved nothing to show for it?” Tsvangirai said, referring to a question he had asked Biti and Ncube when they met before the grand coalition signing ceremonies.

MDC leader Ncube admitted that they had “made mistakes along the way”. “We are sorry for those mistakes that we made. But now, let us finish what we have started. We have defeated Mugabe before and we are going to defeat him again next year,” he said to applause from the crowd.

Former MDC-T secretary general Biti, who now leads the PDP, said they had come back to “give the people another chance of removing Mugabe”. “We are here to give a fresh, new beginning, to reset factory settings to our struggle,” he said.

Biti and Ncube are former Tsvangirai lieutenants, but Tsvangirai and Ncube parted ways in October 2005 following differences over the Senate vote, where a faction aligned to Tsvangirai did not want to participate in senatorial polls that year, while another one sympathetic to Ncube wanted to take part. Tsvangirai expelled Biti in 2014 after the latter called for the MDC-T leader’s resignation.

Mutambara, former Zimbabwean ambassador to Mozambique, described his former master Zanu PF as “the enemy we are fighting”, adding the situation in Zimbabwe had been worsened by the 93-year-old president’s wife Grace, “who has no respect for everyone else”.

Grace Mugabe has become known for admonishing government and presidium officials in public, with her recent victim being Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba, who is also information secretary. Last Saturday, she humiliated him in front of thousands of Zanu PF supporters at a youth rally in Chinhoyi.