Fungi Kwaramba 14 March 2017
HARARE – Former Finance minister and now leader of the People’s Democratic
Party (PDP), Tendai Biti, has made an impassioned plea to MDC president
Morgan Tsvangirai to move decisively on the mooted grand opposition
alliance – warning that any further dithering on the matter could gift
Zanu PF victory in next year’s make-or-break national polls.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Biti also warned that the opposition
would probably face “a different and just as difficult Zanu PF candidate”
in next year’s eagerly-anticipated elections, in Vice President Emmerson
Mnangagwa – whom he described as a “shoo-in” to succeed President Robert
Biti’s exhortations come as the Daily News has recently reported that
Tsvangirai is on the verge of announcing his preferred coalition partners
who will take on Mugabe and the warring ruling party with him in 2018.
“Mugabe is now history. We have to talk beyond him. We have to be
scientific and look beyond someone who will be 94 next year.
“And if we look at Zanu PF closely, it is Mnangagwa who has one hand on
power right now and as the opposition we cannot allow someone who also
violated human rights during the Gukurahundi era to lead the country. We
have to stop him.
“Our failure to come together and our permanent state of fumbling,
blundering and mediocrity is making Mnangagwa’s takeover inevitable,” Biti
said – warning that time was running out for the opposition to work
together and also press for much-needed electoral reforms ahead of 2018.
Mnangagwa has publicly denied that he orchestrated the Gukurahundi
massacres of an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians mainly in Matabeleland
and the Midlands in the early 1980s, saying he was being unfairly targeted
for the atrocities.
“Electoral reforms and the rebirth of the opposition through a grand
coalition are vital. However, while a grand coalition is necessary, it is
not sufficient, the same as electoral reforms which are necessary but not
sufficient on their own.
“The leadership of Nera (the National Electoral Reform Agenda) must come
together with the leadership of Code (Coalition for Democrats) to discuss
immediately the formation of a coalition.
“We need reforms and we need an electoral commission that is independent.
If we are not going to have an independent electoral commission, let us
have Sadc and the African Union to come and observe the elections.
“After all, Zimbabwe benefits from the United Nations and must not select
when and when not to engage those bodies.
“We also need to audit the process of voting at every stage. We need the
security of the observation process. This business that the ruling party
allows certain organisations to come is unacceptable.
“The Electoral Act needs to be amended, the voters’ registration slips
have to go, and we don’t want assisted voters,” Biti thundered further.
Analysts have previously told the Daily News that a united opposition,
fighting with one purpose, can finally bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule,
especially at this time when the nonagenarian is fighting to keep his
warring Zanu PF united.
Tsvangirai has been working behind the scenes with former vice president
Joice Mujuru and other leaders of smaller parties towards the formation of
the mooted alliance, which has been on the cards for a while.
Mujuru, who was sacked from Zanu PF together with bigwigs such as Rugare
Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa, on untested charges of seeking to assassinate
and topple Mugabe from power, is seen as one of Tsvangirai’s likely key
However, question marks have been raised over her role and influence in
the proposed coalition following her nasty and public fallout with Gumbo
and Mutasa, which recently led to her forming her own political outfit,
the National People’s Party (NPP) – barely a year after she joined
But Tsvangirai has since given Mujuru some political oxygen of sorts,
despite his being disappointed by the ructions which eventually led to her
departure from Zimbabwe People First (ZPF).
On her part, Mujuru has said that she remains confident about her
involvement in the mooted grand opposition coalition ahead of the 2018
“In line with our core values of inclusivity, we remain committed to a
coalition of all progressive and democratic opposition forces to ensure we
end the country’s autocratic rule in the 2018 elections.
“To that end, as the NPP we would like to inform our members, supporters,
sympathisers, well-wishers and Zimbabweans from across the political
divide that we remain committed to a democratic Zimbabwe.
“We remain builders of Zimbabwe in peace. We are the future, and we have
the solutions,” she said during the launch of the NPP.
Biti also emphasised yesterday that he had no problems with Tsvangirai,
and that this was “not the time to haggle on who should lead the
“There is no issue between me and Tsvangirai. There are no differences at
all. This is beyond personalities. Everyone must be there as it is time to
say no to Zanu PF rule.
“We have suffered together since 1980 and we must now stop this monster
“I was in Binga recently and it was clear that the people there are
suffering … they have no right to celebrate independence because they
have nothing. Places like Binga expose the opposition’s selfishness in
failing to construct the grand coalition,” the pumped up Biti told the
A large cross section of Zimbabweans, including political analysts and
civic groups, have all said that Tsvangirai is the only opposition leader
capable of giving Mugabe and his divided Zanu PF a run for their money in
next year’s much-awaited polls.
This was further bolstered recently by former Cabinet minister and one of
the caretaker leaders of ZPF, Mutasa, who said the former labour union
leader was the only person “capable and deserving” of leading the
country’s proposed opposition coalition alliance.
“For me Tsvangirai is the natural leader of the coalition because of who
he is … What the National Electoral Reform Agenda is today stands for
what Tsvangirai and the MDC built. The rest of us are latecomers in this
“We want a leader who will do what we thought Mugabe would do, but failed
to do, and as ZPF we want to have discussions about who should lead the
coalition because when we wanted to do it while we were still with Mujuru
she prevaricated,” Mutasa told the Daily News last week.
“As a party we cannot accept a situation where Mujuru leads the coalition
having proved her lack of capacity with ZPF, although she is welcome to be
part of the coalition because we need everyone,” he added without hiding
his disdain for Mujuru.