By Fungi Kwaramba
Opposition National People’s Party (NPP) leader Joice Mujuru has finally managed to push for a drop of the of the ‘MDC’ prefix in the ‘MDC Alliance’ name and the main opposition party’s logo, as she moots a new grand coalition that would involve at least 84 parties.
The former vice president had refused to be part of the ailing Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC Alliance over the name, among other issues, arguing it was not neutral.
Last week, she travelled to South Africa (SA) and held talks with Tsvangirai’s two deputies – Thokozani Khupe and Elias Mudzuri – in which they agreed to drop the MDC Alliance name and also the MDC’s open palm symbol ahead of the fast-approaching elections.
Mujuru’s spokesperson, Gift Nyandoro, and MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, who both attended the meeting of several political parties in the neighbouring country, confirmed that they were working on papers to come up with criteria to choose a new grand coalition leader, as well as fresh name and logo.
“The reason why we went to Cape Town is because we are heeding the people’s call for us to unite. It is our hope that we should work together. We discussed about it (grand coalition) and there was a general agreement that wecould work together. The good thing is that there is now a general consensus that we must not put party symbols on a grand coalition, so while in Cape Town we deliberated on the framework and methodology of choosing a candidate, we just went to Cape Town for two days so we have agreed to make further deliberations. All the parties, the MDC, People Rainbow Coalition (PRC) and Coalition for Democrats (Code), must come up with position papers on the best way forward,” Nyandoro said.
In 2016, Tsvangirai snubbed a similar meeting that was also held in SA instead went ahead to form the MDC Alliance – a coalition of seven political parties that was, however, not represented in the meeting held in Cape Town.
The MDC leader – currently battling colon cancer in an SA hospital – left one of his three deputies, Nelson Chamisa, as leader of the MDC Alliance, who also did attend the SA meeting, though invited.
Allies of Chamisa, who is jostling to succeed Tsvangirai along with Mudzuri and Khupe, has accused his counterparts of trying to back Mujuru in her bid to take over as the leader of a grand coalition, because Tsvangirai is currently ill.
Previous engagements between Mujuru and Tsvangirai collapsed after the two leaders failed to agree on the name of the grand coalition and its leader.
While Tsvangirai, whose political party is in Parliament, went on to form the MDC Alliance, Mujuru, wanted a leader of the alliance to be chosen through an election.
And with Tsvangirai away, it seems the idea is prevailing, at least according to Mwonzora.
“The idea which we are going to sell to the MDC Alliance is that it is necessary for opposition political parties to unite, Zimbabwe has more than 84 political parties and therefore 84 potential presidential candidates, it is therefore necessary for opposition parties to work together, the proposition to form a grand coalition does not undermine existing coalitions,…a growing proliferation of political alliances is surely unnecessary, as we speak we have five including the MDC Alliance, it is necessary to form a grand coalition to stop this dictatorship. Of course they are tendencies to fence off other political parties, that is selfish, I will table to the standing committee the proposition for the formation of a new grand coalition which will be a coalition of more than 84 parties,” said Mwonzora.
Asked if the three MDC officials who went to Cape Town had the blessings of the party and were not acting contrary to Tsvangirai’s aspirations, Mwonzora said the MDC was now packed with “hypocrites”.
“People have gone to America and they did not have the standing committee approval first,” said Mwonzora, referring to the trip to the US by Chamisa, People Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti and MDC leader Welshman Ncube.
Ncube and Biti are both members of the MDC Alliance.
“The truth of the matter is that after the Chitungwiza rally Chamisa convened a meeting that unanimously resolved that we go to South Africa on Monday I convened the meeting of the presidium and we agreed to go. Chamisa was there. Today I am reporting to the standing committee what happened. thus the criticism that is coming is very cheap,” said Mwonzora.
He added, “Tsvangirai is right now in hospital and he has appointed someone to act and therefore we have sufficient authority to act on behalf of the party, he had always been for a grand coalition, yes we were invited in 2016 and declined the invitation on the basis that the meeting had been called by Code, however Tsvangirai and myself were able to iron our differences with the organisers of that meeting so there is no problem for us attending,” said Mwonzora.
MDC youths’ leader Happymore Chidziva last week said Mwonzora, Khupe and Mudzuri were not representing the party when they flew to South Africa and called for disciplinary action against them.
“Their participation at such forum directly violates a National Council resolution which exclusively mandated the president to deal with such issues. The president is on public record to have turned down a similar invitation to attend a similar workshop conducted by the same facilitators. The action by the trio shows great disrespect, not only for the National Council resolution but also shows disdain for the party president who, in accordance with the National Council decision had refused to associate with such exercises conducted by non-Zimbabweans and abroad,” Chidziva. DailyNews