Alliance the only option: Tsvangirai

Source: Alliance the only option: Tsvangirai – DailyNews Live 12 January 2017

Bridget Mananavire

HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says those fighting for
change in Zimbabwe must not “betray the people’s wishes and a serious
national expectation” by not committing to a grand alliance ahead of the
eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

Speaking during a live interview on South African television station ANN7
on Tuesday night, Tsvangirai said the “big tent” that he has been talking
about for months now was not only the best option to end President Robert
Mugabe and Zanu PF’s misrule, but it was also the right vehicle to manage
the power transition after the polls.

“We all see the strategic need for it (opposition coalition) and … if we
don’t succeed in having the change, we would have betrayed a lot of
expectations of Zimbabweans … but it takes everyone to play a part.

“We are very committed to ensuring that we do not betray the national
sentiment about coming together and forging a coalition … we are busy
looking at everything,” he said.

Tsvangirai said assuming that the planned opposition alliance would fail,
as the ruling Zanu PF wanted the world to believe, was presumptuous.

“How do you judge that (the MDC is not committed)? The MDC is very
committed. In fact, you are far, far behind to say that the MDC is not
committed because of a by-election (Bikita West).

“A by-election is a by-election, and it has nothing to do with the
fundamental principles of alliance building. It’s not a litmus test
because it has never been part of the coalition agenda,” he said.

“The agenda is about how we build an alliance pre-election and secondly,
how we agree on the various policies that will confront us as an alliance.
Thirdly, it’s about how we build an executive, post the election, into an
effective coalition government.

“So, I think it’s presumptuous to say that the MDC is not committed. What
litmus test is there?” the former prime minister in the government of
national unity said.

“The big tent is the approach. If you look at all the political parties,
their policies are not different. The differences are in personalities and
some of these other things,” he added.

Tsvangirai said the younger generation needed to be active in choosing
their leaders, instead of shunning election processes as had been the case
over the years.

“The young generation has to register if they are to make a difference. I
know we are also still to do battle on the Diaspora vote, which is
essential in adding to the synergies that we are all talking about,” he

Responding to a question on when he would step aside to allow somebody
else to lead the MDC, Tsvangirai said he could not subvert democracy
within the party, adding that the timing was also not ripe for him to
stand down.

“What is giving up power? In this case the president of the MDC is elected
by a constituency across the country. We are also in a struggle and in a
struggle sometimes it’s very difficult to change horses in the middle of
that struggle.

“It’s not that we are not thinking about it, we are already putting in
place the mechanism for this so that the party should not be identified
with an individual.

“It has been the case (the status quo) not because of the choice of the
leader, but because of the struggle and the confidence which people have
in the leader,” Tsvangirai said.

“Let me just pose a question, would it have been fair for South African
liberation struggle icon Oliver Tambo to leave in the midst of the
struggle, to give up?

“Would it have been fair for Mandela to just give up (and leave the
struggle) to others? It (what is happening) is allowing the struggle to
maintain its momentum,” he added.

“What is also democracy? Democracy is the will of the people, and the will
of the people in the MDC is that they want their president to continue,”
he said further.

He also dismissed outright allegations that he had failed to win any
election against Mugabe and Zanu PF, pointing to the 2008 polls when he
beat both the nonagenarian and the troubled ruling party hands down in the
respective presidential and parliamentary elections.

“When it comes to elections, were any of the elections (past elections)
conducted in a free and fair manner? … We won the 2008 election and did
Mugabe accept that we had won the election? No.

“When you get people who say you have failed, where have I failed? The
question is that let’s get proper, fair and credible elections conducted
so that the people themselves are satisfied that this is the legitimate
government we have elected,” Tsvangirai said.

On Nelson Chamisa’s elevation to one of the party’s deputy president
positions, Tsvangirai dispelled the notion that the Kuwadzana East
legislator’s appointment meant that he had been anointed.

“That’s far from true … when the time comes, when we work out the
question of who can take over to move the country and the party forward,
it will be the people of Zimbabwe, the people of the MDC who will
democratically elect their leader in the structures of the party,” he