By Mugove Tafirenyika
The country’s smaller opposition parties yesterday moved to pacify MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, after he appeared to slam the door shut on Thursday on the prospects of him working with his former comrades who deserted him and the MDC over the years, saying he did not see the sense of crafting a coalition with people who had previously made it clear that they did not want to work with him.
Speaking at a media conference in Harare, the representative of the 13 parties who met in South Africa last week without Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joice Mujuru to advance the scope for an opposition alliance ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, Simba Makoni, said nobody would be left out from the deliberations.
Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday after Makoni’s conciliatory remarks, which came barely 24 hours after Tsvangirai’s outburst, said by reaching out to Tsvangirai so promptly and publicly, the 13 small parties which met in Cape Town last week may have done enough to placate the former prime minister in the short-lived government of national unity, whose support of any mooted opposition coalition was key.
“We commit to reaching out to other leaders … we are not assuming that because they did not come to Cape Town therefore they will not come to Nyanga for example, when we meet again before the end of this year,” Makoni, who is also the leader of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) said.
“We are not enough as the 13 of us, hence the need to engage others. We gave ourselves up to before the end of this year to come up with a structure and working strategy for the coalition. We are committed to doing what is necessary to achieve this noble objective whose time has come for the benefit of Zimbabweans.
“Nobody was left out. This is what the facilitator told us, saying he made three trips here and met every one of us, including Tsvangirai and Mujuru’s representatives. But each of us took a decision whether to attend or not to attend.
“Our meeting was meant to explore the prospects of working together and we hope to have engaged each other in all the areas that are necessary. Numbers are important in any election … ,” Makoni added.
The parties which met in Harare yesterday included the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Zapu, the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) and the MKD.
Addressing journalists at his party’s Harare headquarters on Thursday, Tsvangirai had appeared to slam the door shut on the prospects of him working with his former comrades who deserted him and the MDC over the years.
He also said he had not seen the need for him to attend the Cape Town meeting, which not only involved people who had left his party, but was also unclear in terms of its objectives.
Political observers who spoke to the Daily News then inferred that among the prominent figures that Tsvangirai may have had in his sights was PDP leader Tendai Biti who once served as the MDC’s secretary-general before he acrimoniously parted ways with Tsvangirai.
“You don’t leave a party and go to the side and say let’s have a coalition. Why did you leave in the first place?” Tsvangirai asked rhetorically.
“I hope that everyone will understand that working together is a process of building trust among participants … I did not go (to the SA meeting) because there was no reason for me to attend. How do you introduce a subject which you have not planned with me?
“That does not mean that I am underplaying the need for a coalition, but I don’t even know who was co-ordinating the talks and what mandate he has? Besides, have we failed as Zimbabweans to sit down and talk amongst ourselves? Do we need outsiders to organise us? That is why I did not see it necessary to go to that meeting,” Tsvangirai added.
Before that, the absence of both Tsvangirai and Mujuru at the Cape Town meeting had appeared not to go down well with Biti, who went on to cast doubts on the formation of the mooted grand coalition in the country.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult in Zimbabwe to have coalitions, there are a lot of egocentric and selfish actors in our discourse, but I think we have to do better,” Biti said on social media.
“We have to go beyond these individuals and establish a matrix of working together because that’s what our people want. It’s not about me or what the next leader of a political party wants. So we have to put our people first, so we can reconstruct this country after the mess and collapse caused by Robert Mugabe,” he added.
Analysts have consistently said that a united opposition fighting with one purpose would bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule, especially at this time when the country’s economy is dying and the increasingly frail nonagenarian is battling to keep his warring Zanu PF united.
Since Mujuru joined hands with Tsvangirai and marched with him in the streets of Gweru in August this year — in a rare public display of unity among the opposition — there have been growing calls by fed-up citizens for the formation of a grand opposition alliance.
And speaking to the Daily News in October after defeating Zanu PF in the Norton by-election, independent legislator Temba Mliswa said among the lessons that long-suffering Zimbabweans and the country’s brutalised opposition could learn from his stunning victory then, was that they could once again defeat Mugabe and Zanu PF, just as Tsvangirai and the MDC had done in 2008.
However, and notwithstanding his dim view of his former comrades, Tsvangirai was quick to add on Thursday that the opposition’s plans for a grand coalition were alive, although this would be a process rather than an event. Daily News