HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will soon pick his preferred coalition partners, as he bids to end President Robert Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s 37 years in power, it has emerged.
This comes as opposition parties have come under increasing pressure from long-suffering Zimbabweans to come up with a united front to end Zanu PF’s misrule.
However, with almost 50 opposition parties hoping to be part of the mooted coalition, senior officials within the MDC are worried that attempting to accommodate all of these outfits could be “an exercise in futility”.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, also told the Daily News yesterday that coalition negotiations would “not be multilateral”.
“It is not going to be a multilateral thing, but rather bilateral . . . where the party (MDC) chooses who it wants to work with and negotiate with . . . because we cannot afford to have about 54 opposition parties coming together for a coalition,” he said.
Tamborinyoka added that Tsvangirai would also be approaching other parties on the basis of “what value they bring to the coalition”.
Tsvangirai has been working behind the scenes with former vice president Joice Mujuru and other leaders of smaller parties towards the formation of the mooted opposition alliance, which has been on the cards for a while.
Earlier this week, the former prime minister in the government of national unity vowed to finish off Mugabe and his warring ruling Zanu PF in next year’s make-or-break national elections — adding that he stood ready to lead the planned grand coalition.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News, the fit-again Tsvangirai said he had “no doubt whatsoever” that the MDC — working together with other opposition parties — would, like it did in 2008, once again defeat Zanu PF in 2018 and bring to an end Mugabe’s long but tumultuous rule.
“I stand ready to heed the calls by Zimbabweans that I lead … Indeed, when I moved across the country, the people said I should lead.
“So, if that is what people want, then I am ready to lead the coalition. But this should not be about individuals but about Zimbabwe.
“Indeed, the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe is not between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, but between long-suffering Zimbabweans and a heartless, looting Zanu PF,” Tsvangirai said.
“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 elections you have people who will say ‘I was not part of the talks’ … so due diligence is very important,” added the dogged former labour union leader, as he explained why it was taking long to conclude the mooted coalition talks.
“Forming a coalition should not be a thumb-sucking exercise … and therefore we have to determine the basis of what we are all bringing to the coalition,” he added.
Analysts have said that a united opposition, fighting with one purpose, can finally bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule, especially at a time that the nonagenarian is fighting to keep together his warring Zanu PF.
However, they also warn that without a broad coalition involving all the major opposition players, Zanu PF would use “its usual thuggish and foul methods” to retain power.
Tsvangirai has also emerged in the last few months as the preferred candidate to lead the planned electoral alliance, after getting wringing endorsements from virtually all of the country’s serious opposition players.
Last week, Mujuru — who now leads the National People’s Party (NPP) — moved decisively to dispel doubts about who should lead the coalition when she also endorsed the former prime minister in the stability-inducing government of national unity.
A large cross-section of Zimbabweans, including civil society, has also been making loud calls for Tsvangirai to be the face of the proposed electoral alliance — with former senior Cabinet minister Didymus Mutasa among the first to root for the MDC president.
Apart from Mutasa, former Finance minister and leader of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, Simba Makoni, has also thrown his weight behind the MDC leader.