George Maponga in GUTU—
The Joice Mujuru-led National People’s Party (NPP) yesterday threw spanners into the envisaged coalition of opposition parties ahead of next year’s harmonised elections, declaring that either she leads or there will be no deal. The party said MDC-T president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who is widely touted as the natural leader of the proposed pact, could not do so because he was a “spent force”.
Addressing a poorly attended rally convened to formerly launch the party here yesterday, NPP vice president Mr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said only Dr Mujuru was qualified to lead the proposed coalition.
“We cannot afford to go backwards with a person who has failed,” he said, referring to Mr Tsvangirai’s previous fruitless attempts to snatch power from the ruling Zanu-PF.
Mr Nkomo’s utterances came barely a few weeks after Mr Tsvangirai summoned Dr Mujuru and MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube to sign memoranda of understanding at his Harare house to form the coalition.
The move by Dr Mujuru’s party is likely to wreck plans for the grand coalition, with other opposition parties, mainly MDC-T, angling for Mr Tsvangirai to lead the coalition.
Speaking at the rally at Maungwa Business Centre, Mr Nkomo said his party was prepared to go it alone if Mr Tsvangirai refused to step aside for Dr Mujuru.
“I want to speak about the issue of the coalition talks before I sit down because I know that my president (Dr Mujuru) will tone down in a bid to be diplomatic,” he said.
“We as NPP, we are saying that a coalition does not mean Tsvangirai will become our presidential candidate. He has been in opposition politics since 17 years ago and if a person has failed, he has failed.
“If a person fails you try next door and in this case Tsvangirai failed, and if he does not want a coalition, he should let go because we are going to have Dr Mujuru as our presidential candidate.
“If they (MDC-T) do not accept it, its their problem because we cannot afford to go backwards with a person who has failed.’’
Mr Nkomo said NPP had the capacity to contest and win next year’s elections on its own if coalition talks failed.
In her address after Mr Nkomo’s speech, Dr Mujuru said the MoU that her party signed with Mr Tsvangirai recently was not a final agreement, but a roadmap to be followed to seal a coalition deal.
“NPP will remain NPP and MDC-T will remain MDC-T. What we only agreed on in the MoU was the roadmap to be followed and nothing else. As NPP, we must continue building the party by recruiting more members.’’
Dr Mujuru said those who were not actively supporting her party to fight Zanu-PF, would not get posts in her government if she happened to win next year’s harmonised elections.
Former Zanu-PF Politburo member Mr Dzikamai Mavhaire, who was fired from Zanu-PF together with Dr Mujuru, took a dig at Mr Tsvangirai.
“Tsvangirai does not have liberation war credentials and does not have the support of ex-liberation war fighters, but we (NPP) we can match Zanu-PF because we have war veterans in our ranks, unlike the MDC-T.’’
Mr Mavhaire took a swipe at some senior officials in Zanu-PF whom he accused of chickening out after initially being the brains behind ZimPF, which later split, leading to the formation of NPP.
Former MDC-T Gutu Central Member of Parliament and NPP Masvingo provincial chairman Mr Oliver Chirume also attacked Mr Tsvangirai, describing him as a coward who failed to take power from Zanu-PF on several attempts.