PROSPECTS of a grand coalition of major political parties in the country to push President Robert Mugabe from power in this month’s elections have faltered because of fights over leadership positions, sources have said.
REPORT BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
There had been moves by MDC-T, MDC, Zapu, Zanu Ndonga and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn in recent weeks to forge alliance to enable the ouster of the 89-year-old leader who has been ruling for over three decades.
Sources said the grand coalition failed to materialise because of disagreements over the allocation of parliamentary seats and the leadership structure.
The MDC led by Welshman Ncube on Friday formed and announced a separate pact with Dumiso Dabengwa’s Zapu in Bulawayo.
Speaking to journalists in Bulawayo last week, Ncube and Dabengwa said they were not closing the door on Tsvangirai but would only “engage MDC-T in the event of a presidential run-off”.
Dabengwa said when Tsvangirai approached them he had a plan already, which unfortunately was “not acceptable”.
He also alluded to the fact that the MDC-T delayed in approaching them with the idea of a coalition.
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‘leaders short-change electorate’
University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Professor Greg Lennington said it was a pity that the parties were failing to form a solid pact that would increase their chances of booting out Zanu PF.
“It is very disappointing that the parties will not stand as one large group. This is bound to split the votes,” said Lennington. “It is not fair on their supporters who have to stand and watch while their leaders make such a blunder.”
“We have been in discussion with Ncube since December and Tsvangirai only approached me four days after the Constitutional Court ruling on elections, surely there was no time for discussions,” he said.
The court last week ruled that elections be held on July 31, in line with Mugabe’s proclamation.
Although there seemed to be a general consensus to field Tsvangirai as the Presidential candidate, other posts like that of the vice-presidents have remained unresolved.
While MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe has maintained that she would not relinquish her post to MDC leader Welshman Ncube, the latter has complained that as a senior member he should get a top post.
MDC-T spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka said his party was very clear on the issue of “like-minded” individuals coming together for a common purpose.
“My boss [Tsvangirai] has clearly said that for the benefit of the electorate, it is better for those of a like mind to rally together.”
He, however, could not be drawn to shed light on the grand coalition saying he was reading about it in the newspapers like everyone else.
A senior MDC-T official, who requested anonymity yesterday, however ruled out the possibility of a grand coalition before this month’s make-or-break elections.
“People should wake up to the reality that there won’t be a grand coalition involving Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube,” said the official.
“The two have never attended a meeting where they discussed that issue. There is no agreement in place.”
The official also dismissed reports that Tendai Biti would take over from Khupe as MDC-T vice-president.
“The reports by the State media that Tendai Biti will replace Thokozani Khupe as vice-president are hogwash. Khupe was elected at congress and Biti is secretary-general, I really don’t know where this is coming from.”
MDC secretary general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, in an interview after filing Ncube’s nomination papers, said no one had approached them to talk “about a coalition”.
“No one has approached us to talk about a coalition. We have only been reading it in the papers,” she said.
But other analysts speculated that the Ncube-Dabengwa mini-alliance was a prequel to the grand coalition of all the five parties which is to be announced this week.
They said the two staged the event to throw off the scent of their real strategy.
Obert Gutu, who announced last week he had been appointed Tsvangirai’s chief election agent, yesterday afternoon hinted that negotiations for the grand coalition were ongoing. He wrote on his Facebook wall: “And who said the grand coalition has flopped? Surely, surely the gods must be crazy! This morbid campaign of misinformation and disinformation will drive some people nuts.”