The MDC Alliance could be doing things that are not consistent with their laid down agreement, providing fertile ground for possible disintegration of the coalition and or even destructive intraparty conflicts.
By Everson Mushava
The Standard is in possession of the composite political cooperation agreement document which had so far been a closely guarded secret among the parties.
The document exposes grave inconsistencies that could breed several hurdles to the implementation of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led coalition ahead of elections.
Signed on August 3 last year and titled MDC Alliance Political Cooperation Agreement, the agreement has been a well-guarded secret among principals of the seven political parties who appended their signatures.
The parties forming the alliance are Tsvangirai’s MDC-T, Welshman Ncube (MDC), Tendai Biti (PDP), Jacob Ngarivhume (Transform Zimbabwe), Agrippa Mutambara (ZimFirst), Mathias Guchutu (MCD) and Denford Musiyarira (Zanu Ndonga).
Fissures in the alliance came to the fore recently when MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu unilaterally declared his intention to contest the Harare East constituency, a move that is being perceived as ultra vires the agreement.
The document has serious contradictions on the secondment of candidates to constituencies, a move that could cause serious problems in the allocation of seats to alliance partners.
According to the document, a party that enjoys majority support in a constituency will field a candidate, but there is no criterion for determining the party’s popular support to warrant reservation of the seat, considering that some of the parties have not participated in an election before.
Section 3.0 of the political cooperation agreement specifies that the parties have agreed to set a non-complete electoral alliance for the purposes of contesting the 2018 harmonised elections guided by some outlined principles.
“The party, which is the strongest [in bold]; electorally in a given constituency must field the candidate for the coalition,” Section 3.0 (C) states.
The agreement further states that “the party fielding the parliamentary candidates in a given electoral district shall field the local authority candidates save where it is specified otherwise.”
Gutu’s case is likely to trigger a wave of problems for the MDC Alliance in the event that more MDC-T candidates follow suit and declare intentions to contest in seats reserved for partners on the grounds that their party was the most popular in the constituency they will be targeting.
Some of the seats reserved for the alliance partners have been won by the MDC-T before in previous elections and could create fertile ground for conflict among the coalition partners.
However, a section of the agreement says seats can be redistributed when a new partner comes in.
“The parties agreed that the seat distribution could be varied by agreement of all parties to accommodate any additional alliance partner(s) who may join the alliance on condition that any new member shall without exception be bound by the provisions of this agreement,” Section 3.2.4 reads.
But section 2.0 reads: “The parties agreed that the alliance partners shall remain and operate as independent parties, serve in those aspects specifically provided for in this agreement,” and this appears to have caused resentment in the MDC-T corridors, who now feel the sharing of seats and campaigning of alliance candidates would benefit other parties to get entry into Parliament where they would operate as independent parties in the post-election period.
Some party members who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity said the distribution of candidates was synonymous to candidate imposition that cost the party in the 2013 general elections.
“The failure to abide by the Alliance Agreement’s Section 3.0 (C) is likely to stir up further disillusionment and force the alliance partners into primary elections,” one MDC-T official said.
Another section that has been causing confusion is Section 3(i), which speaks to the appointment of alliance leader Tsvangirai, who is out of the country seeking medical attention.
“In the event of a vacancy occurring for the presidency for whatever reason before the election, then the candidate’s party shall second another candidate and if such vacancy occurs after the election, then the provisions of the national Constitution shall apply,” the section reads.
According to the section, it is the MDC-T that is responsible for choosing the alliance presidential candidate, not Tsvangirai.
The section has been questioned after Tsvangirai, not the party, seemed to have handpicked his deputy, Nelson Chamisa to represent him in the Alliance while Elias Mudzuri remains acting president, an arrangement that has caused friction in the former premier’s party.
Alliance principals and MDC-T officials accuse Chamisa of imposing himself as MDC Alliance president and holding countrywide rallies to entrench himself as the de-facto coalition boss.
The MDC-Alliance has a rally in Manicaland today following last week’s flopped rally in Epworth, Harare.
Tsvangirai’s continued absence from the political scene due to ill-health has left the MDC-T and MDC Alliance navigating serious political turbulence, threatening to split the former labour backed party.
The same applies to parliamentary and local government candidates.
“In the event of a vacancy occurring in Parliament or provincial or Local Government before or after the elections, the party that had the seat shall provide a replacement candidate and Alliance partners shall not contest each other for the duration of this agreement,” Section 3(j) reads.
The document also describes how the MDC Alliance government will run the country after winning elections that includes reducing the number of parastatals, stringent financial inflow control mechanism, an-anti-corruption drive as well as a strong thrust on economic revival.