HARARE – After being snubbed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he appointed his Cabinet, opposition parties are now ganging up against the new Zanu PF leader who has indicated that the country would go for elections in seven months time.
Amid indications that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai turned down overtures to join Mnangagwa’s Cabinet, the Coalition for Democrats (Code) has assigned Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa to lead talks for the formation of a broader coalition.
Presently, there are three major coalitions: Code led by Elton Mangoma, MDC Alliance led by Tsvangirai and the People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC), led by former vice president Joice Mujuru.
“After the euphoria died, we are now focusing on the elections. We need to prepare for the elections because we all realise the task ahead of us and if we are not united we could end up playing second fiddle. Dabengwa is presently engaging churches so that they meditate in unity talks with other coalitions,” said Code spokesperson Mjabisi Noko.
Prior to Mnangagwa announcing his Cabinet, the opposition parties had hoped that the new Zanu PF leader will take on board his rivals in a transitional authority of sorts.
This did not happen.
Mnangagwa included in his Cabinet some technocrats that are his associates to work alongside ministers from his Zanu PF party.
Now, with Mnangagwa’s stock rising after an inspiring inauguration speech, and having masterminded former president Robert Mugabe’s downfall, the MDC led by Tsvangirai said it is now trying to convince Zimbabweans that the war has not been won as the Zanu PF entrenched system is still intact.
“We had put eyes off the ball but now we are back to basics. We are going ahead with plans for 2018 elections and are occupying ourselves with voter registration — that is our main focus for now.
“We don’t want to lose focus, other issues are subordinate to that, people were almost losing sight of the ball, we want reforms first, this is the end game, this is a build up to the end game,” said Obert Gutu, MDC’s spokesperson.
On Monday when he swore-in Cabinet ministers, Mnangagwa indicated that the country would go for elections in the next six to seven months.
He called on Zimbabweans from across the political divide to unite and grow the economy, which had almost collapsed under the stewardship of his predecessor.
But there is no room for such niceties in the opposition, with PRC saying while removing Mugabe was one giant step towards tackling a system that previously rigged elections, the task ahead now is to ensure that Zanu PF is defeated by a united coalition come 2018.
He said Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe because of legal provisions in the Constitution, should now level the playing field before seeking his own mandate.
“We are still trying to reach out to other players. But after Mugabe’s fall it should be noted that the Mugabe must go mantra has not been the correct identification of the problems that Zimbabweans are facing, Mugabe was representing a failed system — that system is made up of several layers which amongst other saddening facts is none mitigated interference in civilian matters by the military. Clearly it is a remiss to suggest that Mugabe was responsible for this crisis on his own without those who were with him taking collective responsibility, those who served with Mugabe to make this country suffer also have a collective responsibility to step down with him. The euphoria was a bit misplaced,” said Gift Nyandoro, Mujuru’s spokesperson.
And as the country hurtles towards the crunch 2018 polls, Nyandoro said there is need for the Mnangagwa administration to put in place requisite political reforms.
“We believe that among the key demands to the new administration is the issue of electoral reform agenda, there are several issues that cannot be realised in the next seven months such as the economy but on elections he must deliver. Mnangagwa is not a product of an election but of a legal process that nominated him so in order to assert himself he needs that mandate from the people and not a technical one,” said Nyandoro.
Ahead of next year elections the opposition is demanding that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission flushes out military personnel within its tanks, level the electoral playing field and also allow Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to vote.