Torchbearer row scuttles opposition coalition

Source: Torchbearer row scuttles opposition coalition – DailyNews Live

Tendai Kamhungira  3 August 2017

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s opposition political parties could fail to form an
alliance to fight the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections
against President Robert Mugabe, a South Africa-based think tank, NKC
African Economics (NKC), has said.

Mugabe, 93, is seeking an eighth and final term after winning the 2013
race against veteran politician Morgan Tsvangirai, 56, whose MDC is one of
the main opposition parties uniting.

The alliance seems to be failing the test to agree on a single candidate
before the vote without splintering.

Tsvangirai, who has lost three elections, wants to run again but is facing
challenges from others in the opposition alliance.

He disputed the results of the last vote in 2013 and the election in 2008,
whose first round he won, but was followed by weeks of deadly political
violence in which about 200 people died.

NKC analyst Gary van Staden said the main point on the agreement between
opposition parties was that the viability of any coalition would depend on
the ability of the various components to work out key issues – leadership
in particular.

The think tank said it appears that these issues are going to hamper the
formation of a viable coalition no matter what the protagonists are
claiming now.

“Both opposition heavyweights clearly believe they should lead the
coalition, and both have viable claims, but they also both have
significant weaknesses. Tsvangirai missed a real chance of removing Mugabe
in 2008 and was then outmanoeuvred by the president during the unity

“The question remains whether he has what it takes to defeat Mugabe. Joice
Mujuru, meanwhile, sat silent at Mugabe’s side while he perpetrated a
series of crimes against his people, and she must deal with issues of
trust that arise from that.

“Mugabe and Zanu PF are ripe for the political plucking, but only if the
opposition can unite and be decisive over what it wants most,” Staden

Mujuru, who now heads the National People’s Party (NPP), is hedging her
bets on joining a coalition of all opposition parties to challenge Zanu PF
in elections expected in the third quarter of next year.

In April, a potential major development in a possible defeat of Mugabe and
the ruling Zanu PF at next year’s elections was an agreement by opposition
groupings on a united front against the only party and president an
independent Zimbabwe has ever known. Tsvangirai and Mujuru signed an
agreement to work together.

NKC warned at the time that while this was a “movement that could mature
into a viable challenge to Zanu PF and Mugabe, it could just as easily
disintegrate as the parties and their leaders are drawn into issues around
who the presidential candidate should be. Both leaders have strong

Barely a few months later, the Transform Zimbabwe political party leader
Jacob Ngarivhume, one of the signatories to the Memorandum of
Understanding with Tsvangirai’s MDC, told local media that Mujuru was
“grandstanding and not committed to a coalition of all parties ahead of
the polls”.

Mujuru has denied the allegations and suggested that forming a coalition
was a process not an event. She has pledged her commitment to forming
electoral alliances with other opposition parties.

What she did not say was with which parties and whether the final
coalition would include both her and Tsvangirai.

In addition, her later comments included the statement that if people were
demanding she lead, then she would have to listen – a clear reference to
the thorny issue of coalition leadership that Tsvangirai believes is his