MDC-T capitulates on coalition conditions

Source: MDC-T capitulates on coalition conditions | The Financial Gazette February 2, 2017

THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) has softened its stance on the minimum conditions that were to be met by other opposition in order to consummate a coalition to confront President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party at the polls in 2018.
Under pressure from its members to coalesce with other opposition movements ahead of make-or-break elections next year, Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party this week said it will no longer discriminate against any political party in discussions to form a coalition as had been suggested last year.
Last year, Morgan Tsvangirai’s party set what it termed minimum conditions that were to form the basis of negotiations for the coalition.
As part of the conditions, the party had ruled out working with smaller opposition parties.
Given the rivalry between Tsvangirai and leaders of parties that emerged from his movement, the preconditions had been seen as meant to push away Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube from the negotiating table.
Ncube’s MDC party splintered from Tsvangirai’s formation in 2005, while Biti exited the labour-backed party in 2008 to form the People’s Democratic Party.
According to the MDC-T national executive and national council, a coalition was to be based on internationally accepted and tested principles. These included a condition that the coalition partners were to field one presidential candidate and one parliamentary and one local government candidate per contested seat.
The presidential candidate was to be selected on the basis of the best individual who could win an election for the coalition against the incumbent; the party, which, based on past performance and/or other factors, was the strongest electorally in a given constituency was to field the candidate for the coalition; parties were to agree on the institutional framework (structure) for the management of the coalition and were to have common ground and agree on key policy issues before the election.
But Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka told the Financial Gazette this week that they were not going to leave out other parties in the discussions.
“We are not going to be exclusionary in working with political parties as long as they meet the requirements set by the national council. The conditions for the coalition did not mention names of any political party which we said we do not want to work with. Our goal is that come 2018 it must be (President) Mugabe versus the nation of Zimbabwe,” he explained.
Political analyst, Rejoice Ngwenya, said the move was welcome as it affords all the political parties a chance to unite against ZANU-PF.
“While I feel that the country has almost 40 opposition parties, some of which need to be treated with skepticism, the development if effected will give opposition parties leverage to speak with one voice on a collective scale. This will be more advantageous because if the political parties are to resolve that they will not participate in elections because of lack of electoral reforms, no smaller political party will legitimise the election. This is so because no one can dispute an election in which an opposition party and a ruling party participates in,” said Ngwenya.
Media practitioner, Admore Marambanyika, said the MDC-T had realised that most of the opposition political parties do not meet the conditions that had been set earlier since no political party had managed to defeat ZANU-PF.
“…the only political parties and independent candidates who have made it against ZANU-PF did so after being backed by the MDC-T. The implications are that Tsvangirai commands opposition politics and softening of conditions is meant to mop up all voters who participate in elections for different reasons,” said Marambanyika.
In the 2002 presidential elections, Tsvangirai polled 42 percent of the vote losing to President Mugabe who polled 56 percent. The remainder was shared by other opposition parties.
The next round of presidential elections held in 2008 saw Tsvangirai scooping 47,9 percent, while President Mugabe took 43,2 percent, forcing a run-off because the former trade unionist’s win was not enough for him to land the presidency.

Other opposition leaders who participated in the election such as Simba Makoni garnered 8,3 percent while Langton Tawungana polled 0,6 percent.
Tsvangirai then went on to pull out of the run-off citing violence against his supporters, leaving President Mugabe to romp to victory in a one-man race.
The last round of elections held in 2013 saw President Mugabe winning after getting 61,09 percent of the ballot while Tsvangirai got 33,94 percent.
Ncube managed a paltry 2,68 percent while Dumiso Dabengwa polled 0,74 and Kisinoti Mukwazhe got 0,29 percent.
That opposition political party leaders attained a combined overall percentage poll of 56,8 percent of the vote in 2008 compared to President Mugabe’s 43,2 percent, demonstrates the power they can amass if they pull together in the same direction.
Legal expert and ZimRights chairperson, Passmore Nyakureba, said if the MDC-T was to go into a coalition with reputable political forces, the opposition would dislodge President Mugabe and ZANU-PF from power.
“In the previous elections ZANU-PF has been taking advantage of a divided vote as exemplified in 2008. Going into the elections jointly will maximise the opposition’s chances to claim victory,” he said.
South African-based Zimbabwean researcher, Lovemore Fuyane, said there was need to find ways to tap into the Diaspora vote if the opposition was to stand a chance with ZANU-PF.
“The 2013 elections saw around 3,5 million voters turning out with just 2,1million of those voting for President Mugabe. Now if the Zimbabwean Diaspora numbers of three million, as per some conservative estimates, are taken into account that would place them at a number potentially equivalent to the combined total obtained by ZANU-PF and the MDC-T,” he said.
He said that the Diaspora vote would have a significant say in how the proverbial rolling dice lands in Zimbabwe.
Political analyst and academic, Ibbo Mandaza, said it was imperative for the MDC-T to focus on more crucial issues that have stifled victory against President Mugabe in the past years.
“Focus must rather be directed at pushing for meaningful reforms. For instance, there is need to separate ZANU-PF from the State and also to dismantle the country’s securocrats, who are responsible for instigating political violence during election periods. These securocrats are also interfering with the running of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission hence forming a coalition might not help if these barriers are not dealt with,” he said.