‘Join forces to unseat Mugabe’


HARARE – Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have told MDC factions to unite or kiss goodbye to any chances of ousting President Robert Mugabe in next year’s presidential election.

A divided opposition has come to Mugabe’s rescue in previous elections and chances are he will be a beneficiary of split votes again in the next election, likely to be his last because of advanced age and reports of ill-health.

Zimbabwe will be voting in a tense election that Mugabe wants in March and signs are that the MDC factions and other parties are unlikely to join forces because of personal differences.

That division must come to an end, people in the Diaspora told representatives of the MDC factions at a meeting in Cape Town last week.

Douglas Mwonzora, spokesperson for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party and Qhubani Moyo, policy chief for Welshman Ncube’s MDC, were told by an uncompromising diaspora that a fragmented opposition would preserve Mugabe’s rule.

The public meeting was convened by pro-democracy group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition as an update on the constitutional reform exercise.

Moyo said while the diaspora was unequivocal in its demand that they must find a “common formula” to unseat Mugabe, he doubted the coalition would come into existence.

“They (diaspora) said why don’t you unite against the common enemy. Our position, we want to build a party that can stand on its own in the next election because there are fundamental differences with the MDC-T,” Moyo told the Daily News yesterday.

The MDC split on October 25, 2005 over differences on the participation in a Senate election.

Observers however say the MDC was inexorably heading towards a split anyway — plagued by tribal mistrust and competing political ambitions.

In the run-up to the 2008 poll, the two parties attempted to close ranks and back Tsvangirai as presidential candidate, but Ncube alleges the mainstream MDC kept on shifting goal posts until the talks collapsed.

“We tried unity the last time, but it did not work,” Moyo said. “Now they are exhibiting certain colours that epitomise what we are fighting against in Zanu PF,” said Moyo.

The smaller MDC says Tsvangirai’s party has mastered violence which was evident in the run-up to the third MDC congress in Bulawayo last year. The party is yet to take firm action against those involved in the violence.

Moyo, however, said the MDC was still open to talks.

“However, in the process of building a strong party to stand on its own, if we stumble against other Zimbabweans who share a common idea with us, we will not close our ears to conversation,” he said.

Mwonzora said his party was also open to reunification talks.

“The position of the MDC has always been that it is willing to work with all progressive forces for the fulfilment of the objectives of the democratic struggle,” Mwonzora said.

“It is not the MDC that has stood in the way of unity of progressive forces.”

Asked about allegations that the MDC was aping Zanu PF in violence, he retorted: “We will never force anyone to unite with us. They have spoken a lot against us to the extent that they lose focus on the fact that the enemy is Zanu PF.”

Zimbabwe has a diverse political organizations, 20 or so, from left to right, whose common factor is opposition to Mugabe.

Political analysts say the failure by the Zanu PF opposition, which has failed to work together or back one candidate for the past three and half years, increases the chances of Mugabe winning the forthcoming election.

While the spotlight is on Tsvangirai’s challenge to Mugabe in the looming election in Zimbabwe, there are other 20 candidates waiting in the wings.

Most of them, dismissed by many political analysts as presidential no-hopers, are running low-level campaigns far from the limelight.

Most of the candidates have failed to refute charges that they are there with Mugabe’s blessing to split the opposition vote or bolster an image of multiparty democracy.

The few pre-election polls show that only Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has a real chance of unseating Mugabe in the forthcoming watershed election.

While the diaspora wants all the opposition leaders to rally behind Tsvangirai, egos are the biggest stumbling block to the coalition.

Tsvangirai and Ncube are both ambitious men who belong to the same generation of political gladiators who have broken with a more hard-line “old guard.”

“People should accept that just as much as we cannot have a coalition with Zanu PF, we are so different in parties and we are equally different from the MDC-T and we should just accept that. It’s as plain as that,” Ncube said.

“It’s like a marriage; if a marriage is broken down, it’s broken down. You can’t say there are children. It’s bad, it’s bad, accept it. Often the children are better off than being caught up in a tumultuous, abusive and violent marriage. So you don’t serve the interests of the children. If something is dead, it’s dead. Accept it.”

Ncube says the larger MDC has been discredited by violence, corruption and nepotism and their failed tactics of boycotting elections.

In his remarkable 32-year rule of the Southern African country, Mugabe has won more than a dozen, mostly controversial, national elections that also include legislative polls due to a fragmented and disorganised opposition. He also survived a 2008 electoral defeat by Tsvangirai, after seeing off public anger spawned by a flagging economy and vast Western backing for his ouster.

The two MDC s suffered badly in 2008 after losing close to two dozen parliamentary seats because of split votes.

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