‘Tsvangirai fit to lead coalition’

Source: ‘Tsvangirai fit to lead coalition’ – DailyNews Live

Blessings Mashaya      12 July 2017

HARARE – Forrmer Cabinet minister and leader of the smaller MDC Welshman
Ncube has hinted on his preferred choice for the mooted grand coalition –
telling the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that former prime
minister Morgan Tsvangirai was fit to represent Zimbabwe’s opposition in
next year’s watershed elections.

Ncube ended 12 years of frosty relations with Tsvangirai, after an
acrimonious split in 2005, when he signed a memorandum of understanding
(MoU) in April – weeks  after the former labour union leader had penned a
similar document with National People’s Party (NPP) president Joice
Mujuru.

In an interview on HARDtalk with BBC’s Zeinab Badawi which was aired
yesterday, Ncube dismissed Tsvangirai’s health concerns and suggested he
was fit to run for the presidency in 2018.

“I am not a medical person to speak about president Tsvangirai’s health,
but I have met him several times over the last four, five months, we have
had extensive and long discussions.

“I have not gotten the impression that he is in any medical state which
will hinder him leading the opposition coalition if that is our collective
view that he should be the candidate to lead the coalition.

“I do not, from my interactions with him, share the medical concerns that
some may expect, but I am not a medical doctor,” the former MDC
secretary-general said.

Tsvangirai was diagnosed with cancer of the colon and has been undergoing
treatment in neighbouring South Africa.

“What is important is that we must recognise that up until now, president
Tsvangirai is the only person who has previously defeated Mugabe in an
election.

“We must recognise that in the previous election, he had secured the
highest number of votes.

“It is important whatever coalition we built, ensure that those who have
supported him all along are able to support the collective position that
we will agree on.

“I have an opinion who should be (lead coalition), but discussions are
going on, it will be inappropriate for me to express my opinion on
HARDtalk,” said Ncube.

Tsvangirai, who has lost to President Robert Mugabe three times, came
closest to becoming Zimbabwe’s new leader in the 2008, March 29 elections
in which he beat the veteran Zanu PF leader but failed to gain the
required votes for an outright victory.

The results of those elections were withheld for six long weeks by stunned
authorities, amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud
which were later given wings by former Zanu PF bigwigs who are now in
opposition ranks.

Tsvangirai pulled out of the planned run-off days before polling citing
massive violence and intimidation against his supporters – leaving Mugabe
to stage a one-man vote which was widely condemned by the international
community.

In run-up to the sham poll, Mashonaland East had witnessed horrific
violence which left an estimated 200 MDC supporters dead, when Zanu PF led
by war veterans went on a retribution exercise to punish people suspected
to have not voted for Mugabe.

Ncube told the BBC that the opposition was yet to decide on who leads the
coalition, saying they needed to agree on its leader.

“As to who will be the face of the opposition is yet to be determined and
I hope when that question is determined, we will be realistic enough to
present a candidate with the capacity and following to defeat Mugabe in a
realistic way, rather than an idealistic way.

“What is critical at the end of the day is to come together, by consensus;
we agree who is the person that should be our face as opposition in the
forthcoming elections.

“I do not think it should be about pushing anybody off the stage. We are
in a national crisis which requires our collective unity,” said Ncube.

“I agree that we should be where we are, a year or two years ago, but it’s
better late than never.

“We deserve the criticism that we have not acted with the speed and with
the urgency that is required, but we are acting and we are moving forward.

“We are talking to each other, there are negotiators across the board who
are talking to each other on a daily basis with the view to conclude this
as early as possible,” he added.

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