SPLINTER MDC parties reunited yesterday in a historic move that is likely to boost former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s chances of defeating President Robert Mugabe in next year’s elections.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Tsvangirai, already endorsed by a string of opposition parties as the flag bearer of an alliance that is seeking to topple the 93-year-old ruler in the 2018 make-or-break polls, smoked the peace pipe with MDC founding secretary-general Welshman Ncube and his successor Tendai Biti.
The three leaders, representing their individual parties, signed an agreement to form the MDC Alliance that will face Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF in the elections at an event held at Harare’s Zimbabwe Grounds.
The trio were joined by leaders of four other opposition parties and made a pledge to form a united front against Mugabe.
The parties are Tsvangirai’s MDC-T, MDC led by Ncube, Biti’s People’s Democratic Party, MCD, Zanu Ndonga, Transform Zimbabwe and ZimPF led by former diplomat Aggripa Mutambara.
MDC Alliance immediately received an endorsement from several civic society organisations and activists that include #This Flag founder Pastor Evan Mawarire who applauded the unity shown by the political parties.
In his address, Tsvangirai said the grand alliance was a response to the people’s quest to see a united opposition ahead of the harmonised elections.
“We have graduated from this needless and unhealthy competition,” he told thousands of supporters after signing the agreement.
“Alone, we can go fast, but united we can go far. I want to assure you that this demonstration [of unity] is a demonstration to define hope and honest pursuit of the freedom of Zimbabwe.
“We have come together as political parties but it is not as easy.
“There are other people who question why we have done it and will fight to the heels to destroy this experiment.
“Those in MDC-T will say we have numbers but you are not as many as long as you are not able to change the president,” he said as he called for unity to cascade even to the grassroots.
Tsvangirai said Zanu PF had no chance against a united opposition. Since late last year, opposition parties have been involved in different coalition negotiations but with little success.
Tsvangirai told his supporters, who are always accused of having a big brother mentality that there is no logic in going it alone as previous elections having shown that MDC-T needs other parties.
“You will hear some saying I have lost my seat, no, your seat is not going to deal with the problems people are facing,” he said.
“Even if we were to give you all the seats do that translate into the deliverance of the people of Zimbabwe?”
He revealed that at one point he met Biti and Ncube so that they introspect and see what they have achieved in a fragmented environment.
“I told them that we have a legacy issue to deal with, I asked them including myself that what legacy are we leaving to the country,” he said.
“Do we want to be associated with the failure to have change in this country for the sake of the people of Zimbabwe or that you were part of the process that transformed this country?
“I am glad to say everyone had serious introspection. I asked them what we have achieved all these years and nothing was achieved and so why did we waste our efforts for the last 20 years or so.”
Tsvangirai said they had a common agenda to rescue the economy, health sector, education sector, unemployment and youth upliftment.
One of his proposals was to adopt the South African Rand as was of stabilizing the economy.
Ncube, who split with Tsvangirai in 2005, said by signing the alliance deal they were committing themselves to a mission of rebuilding Zimbabwe. He said the alliance has to go back to the principles and objectives of the original MDC.
“For those who were there in 1999 (when the idea was mooted to form MDC) we agreed on an agenda for change,” he said.
“We agreed on five priority issues and we need to go back to those priorities,” he said.
“We had diverted from that agenda for change. We made mistakes along the way and we must admit before you today and say we are sorry for those mistakes. We are here today to correct those mistakes.
“We have defeated Mugabe before and we will defeat him again next year.
“We are saying to president Tsvangirai that let us finish what we started,” he said much to the applause of multitudes of opposition supporters.
Biti, who on the eve of the event was said to be out of the coalition, sprang a surprise and pledged to rally behind Tsvangirai.
He said they need to restore the original MDC and work towards strengthening their capacity to deal with Zanu PF.
Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume said it was important for opposition parties to unite and stop dividing votes.
He said they will defend their victory if Zanu PF plots to steal elections next year.
“This alliance aims not only to win the 2018 elections but to defend our vote and to ensure the democratic transfer of power,” he said.
“Since we, as political leaders, have demonstrated unity of purpose and action by establishing this alliance, I would like to call upon other players to join this revolution especially in light of the imminent commencement of the biometric voter registration.”
Mutambara they were ready to expose Zanu PF’s ‘evil ways’ including how it ‘steals elections.’ He described Mugabe as an incompetent leader who has destroyed the country.
Concerned Citizens Support Network of Zimbabwe represented by Assan Mtembo said they are putting mechanisms to deal with electoral fraud. He said they will fight for the implementation of electoral reforms and ensure that there is fairness in how elections are conducted.
Zanu Ndonga and MCD expressed hope that the coalition will romp to victory next year. The parties say the door remains open for former Vice President Joice Mujuru to join the alliance.