By Mugove Tafirenyika
Opposition leaders intending to form a grand coalition against President Robert must be cautious of being infiltrated by Zanu PF, Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) interim co-leader Rugare Gumbo has warned.
Under pressure from long-suffering Zimbabweans, opposition parties — including Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and Joice Mujuru’s newly-formed National People’s Party (NPP) — are currently in talks to come up with a united front in the hope of finally bringing to an end Mugabe’s 37-year rule in next year’s crunch elections.
However, haggling, jostling and inflated egos have impeded progress towards the pact amid fears that time is running out, with some opposition leaders endorsing Tsvangirai as the alliance’s leader.
But Gumbo told the Daily News yesterday that while the coalition needed to be concluded in time to allow its candidate ample time to campaign, rushing the process could backfire in spectacular fashion.
“While we appreciate the people’s impatience, it is our duty as leaders to ensure that the process is not dictated by events outside, that we should be in total control of the process and controlling events to avoid mistakes that could be fatal because some of us are aware of what the animal we are dealing with (Zanu PF) is capable of doing,” the former Zanu PF spokesperson said.
“We must, as leaders, try to as much as we can to manage the emotions our people have on this coalition issue. We know they want it like yesterday but we can’t just say because people want it today, so let us have it now. We risk being infiltrated if we are that reckless.
We must be able to control events and not be led by them. That is why we are in leadership.”
Gumbo’s sentiments dovetail with those expressed by Tsvangirai in an exclusive interview with the Daily News on Monday when he said while “the commitment towards forming a grand coalition is there . . . but we must exercise due diligence in regard to our partners”.
“Imagine at the end, just before the elections, you have people who will say ‘I was not part of the talks’ . . . so due diligence is very important,” he said.
Gumbo said his party has not yet deliberated on who should lead the coalition owing to internal problems which saw ZPF part ways with Mujuru, who went on to form the NPP.
“It is premature for us to discuss coalition leadership as we are trying to make progress towards our convention to elect substantive leadership after the split that destabilised our structures.
“We need to be more calculative to avoid the mistake we made with Mujuru, so we need to do some strategic planning and without that it is difficult to move ahead. We are coming through though,” Gumbo said.
However, Gumbo’s ZPF co-leader Didymus Mutasa has since expressed his personal opinion that he wants Tsvangirai to be the coalition leader. Daily News