By Gift Phiri
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai is worried that the continuing bickering within the opposition movement over the consummation of the eagerly-awaited grand coalition could lead to voter apathy in next year’s crucial elections.
The former prime minister in the stability-inducing unity government — who has been at the forefront of efforts to evolve a consensus among opposition parties — said the failure by opposition leaders to come together to form the mooted coalition will likely cause disillusionment among the voters.
“The most fundamental issue is that the fragmentation of the opposition is unnecessary and unhealthy competition.
“And we have to get this thing organised if we are to be of any relevance. Zvichatipa (It will give us) two advantages, to motivate the electorate to go and register and to go and vote, yah.
“But ikaramba iri (if it remains) more of the same, then people will go into apathy. And the worst thing that is going to affect the next election is apathy.
“If we can break that apathy among the people, the better for everyone,” Tsvangirai told the Daily News in an interview.
He said the current fight over who should lead the coalition is “needless”.
Tsvangirai, on August 5 received a huge boost when he was joined by seven other political parties in forming an MDC Alliance in a development which lifted the mood of ordinary Zimbabweans who are looking for an alternative to President Robert Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF in 2018.
Mugabe, 93, is seeking an eighth and final term after winning the 2013 race against Tsvangirai, 65, whose is punting to lead the coalition.
Tsvangirai said the opposition should rise in unison and agree to a person who would be best suited to defend the Constitution, lead the armed forces and protect the democratic ethos of the country.
“Change is good for everyone. Everyone must register, everyone must vote, this is the only chance in this coming election to change the direction of the country.
“This is a post-Mugabe era and the post-liberation generation and we must move on now,” said Tsvangirai.
Analysts have said the lack of a cohesive coalition will strengthen the hand of the ruling party and plays directly into the hands of Mugabe.
Cape Town-based NKC analyst Gary van Staden said the main point on the agreement between opposition parties was that the viability of any coalition would depend on the ability of the various components to work out key issues — leadership in particular.
Van Staden said it appears that these issues are going to hamper the formation of a viable coalition no matter what the protagonists are claiming now.
Tsvangirai is tipped to lead the grand coalition but other opposition parties are backing former vice president Joice Mujuru to fuel divisions within the opposition ranks.
Already, Tsvangirai is facing a hard time in Matabeleland provinces where influential MDC politicians who include his deputy Thokozani Khupe, have expressed their disquiet over the way he has handled the coalition talks.
Apart from having to deal with the disgruntlement within the MDC Matabeleland structures, Tsvangirai is also battling to heal the rift caused by violence which broke out at the party’s Bulawayo offices on August 6 which left Khupe injured.
The suspension of organising secretary Abednigo Bhebhe, who was said to be one of the victims of the intra-party violence, has further stoked tensions in the already volatile Bulawayo province. Daily News