MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his former top lieutenant Tendai Biti yesterday reunited in Chitungwiza at a colourful National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) rally as they wooed the youth vote ahead of the watershed 2018 general elections.
by PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Tsvangirai and Biti broke ranks with the latter accusing the MDC-T leader of having overstayed in power despite losing to President Robert Mugabe in three heavily-contested and disputed consecutive presidential elections since 2000.
Biti’s endorsement of Tsvangirai brings closer the opposition’s cherished dream of fielding a single presidential candidate to face ageing and ailing Mugabe, who would be 94 at the next poll.
Tsvangirai last month signed memoranda of understanding to form a coalition with Joice Mujuru and Welshman Ncube.
The former premier then took to the podium, welcomed the coming together of opposition parties and received a standing ovation from the ecstatic estimated 5 000 strong crowd.
“I’m pleased to be sharing the same platform with Biti, Cosmas Mponda and Jacob Ngarivhume as we work together to bring change and solve issues troubling the country,” Tsvangirai said.
Biti today leads the People’s Democratic Party, while Mponda and Ngarivhume are presidents of Zimbabwe Freedom Front and Transform Zimbabwe respectively.
Also present at the rally was the Welshman Ncube-led MDC acting national chairman Shupikai Mandaza.
Tsvangirai said the youth were the game-changers in the forthcoming polls and they should use their numerical and demographical size to influence a change of regime.
“In the past election  only 5% of those between the ages 18 and 40 went to vote. You [youths] are outsourcing your future to the old people. I am making a final appeal to you that you are the game changers as those below the age 40 constitute 60% of the electorate,” he said.
Tsvangirai further stated that all parents should take with them their children aged above 18 years to go and register when voter registration opens so that they can make their voices heard.
“Let’s all go with our children to register and on the voting day we should turn up in numbers and demand to be afforded the chance to cast our ballots. That should not be all, but we should also be prepared to defend our votes after voting,” he said.
The MDC-T leader reiterated that he would refuse a result that did not give people the mandate they deserve amid wild applause from the crowd.
A boisterous Tsvangirai said there was no chance Mugabe and Zanu PF would win the next poll.
“My last word to Zanu PF is that you should know that you are now the minority. So we can’t expect a minority to defeat the majority,” Tsvangirai said.
Biti in a brief statement to the audience had earlier endorsed Tsvangirai by reciting the history of the MDC formation.
“I thank the opposition leaders here, but more importantly, president Tsvangirai. In 1999 at Women’s Bureau we met and at the Working People’s Convention we came up with 11 resolutions. The most important one was that we no longer wanted Robert Mugabe’s rule,” Biti said.
“Today we meet again with 16 months to go to the next election, with one resolution that we agreed to in 1999 that we have not fulfilled and that resolution is to liquidate Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. So we have [come] together with all the leaders in the tent to restate that covenant.”
At the end of the rally, Biti when asked directly about talks with Tsvangirai, was evasive but did not deny the existence of the negotiations.
“We came here as Nera and on discussion with MDC-T, it is too early to make a statement,” he said before driving off.
Nera is calling for electoral reforms that include the compilation of a new and credible voters’ roll, cleansing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission secretariat of Zanu PF aligned staff and the disbandment of militia that cause political violence.