Mugove Tafirenyika 6 March 2017
HARARE – Former Presidential Affairs minister and one of the caretaker
leaders of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party, Didymus Mutasa, says the
popular former prime minister during the government of national unity,
Morgan Tsvangirai, is the only person “capable and deserving” of leading
the country’s mooted opposition coalition.
Speaking to the Daily News in an interview yesterday, Mutasa said while
there were many people who aspired to lead the planned grand alliance,
only Tsvangirai had the support and “the credentials” to take that
position – completely rubbishing in the process both the capacity and
chances of former Vice President Joice Mujuru to lead the opposition.
Mutasa was effusive in his praise of Tsvangirai, making special mention of
the way the MDC president had persevered against all odds in his push for
a more democratic Zimbabwe, including taking on President Robert Mugabe
and a Zanu PF that often behaved thuggishly when challenged.
Mutasa’s sentiments resonate with those of a large cross section of
Zimbabweans, including political analysts and civic groups, who all say
that the former trade union leader is the only opposition leader capable
of giving Mugabe and the warring Zanu PF a run for their money in the
eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
The gushing Mutasa described Tsvangirai as a “real fighter for democracy”,
adding that the dogged former premier was the “natural leader” for the
“For me Tsvangirai is the natural leader of the coalition because of who
he is … What the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) is today stands
for what Tsvangirai and the MDC built. The rest of us are latecomers in
“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.
“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 the leader of the National People’s Party (NPP).
The former senior Cabinet minister and other ZPF bigwigs have been
engaging in an ugly feud with Mujuru, ever since their spectacular public
fallout last month.
This happened after Mujuru announced that she had expelled Mutasa, another
ZPF elder Rugare Gumbo and five other party heavyweights – on account of
them being alleged Zanu PF agents, and working to topple her from her then
interim ZPF position.
But no sooner had she announced her surprise decision than the situation
turned into a complete farce, when Mutasa and Gumbo announced at their own
press conference that they had also similarly and summarily expelled
Mujuru from ZPF.
Mujuru was later dealt a further body blow when she suffered mass
desertions, including receiving resignations from some of her longtime top
aides such as Sylvester Nguni, Ray Kaukonde and retired brigadier-general
Last week, Mujuru moved to formally cut her ties with ZPF when she formed
the NPP, ending her relationship with her erstwhile colleagues which dated
to their time in Zanu PF.
Before problems rocked ZPF, Mujuru had been working behind the scenes with
Tsvangirai and other smaller parties towards the formation of the planned
grand opposition coalition.
And Tsvangirai has since given Mujuru some political oxygen of sorts,
despite his being disappointed by the ructions which eventually led to her
departure from ZPF.
However, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti said yesterday
that the question of who should lead the mooted opposition coalition was
not an issue at the moment as there were more pressing issues to deal
“The issue of leadership is the least difficult of the hurdles we are
faced with because coalitions are already there in the Coalition of
Democrats (Code) and Nera, but the challenge is bringing the leaders from
the two groups under one roof to discuss why we need a coalition.
“As long as there are some among us who think they can win against Mugabe
by themselves we are not going anywhere. We need a rebirth, a reawakening
of the opposition in this country,” Biti said, adding that Mutasa was,
however, entitled to his views.
On her part, Mujuru herself 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 last week as she announced the formation of the
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 a time that the nonagenarian is fighting to keep his warring
Zanu PF united.
They also say Mujuru, whose liberation struggle nom de guerre was Teurai
Ropa (Spill Blood), and whose late husband Solomon was the first black
post-independence army commander, could provide the much-needed bridge
that opposition parties have been missing to ensure the smooth transfer of
power if they win the 2018 elections.