via Tsvangirai, Mujuru in talks – DailyNews Live 13 September 2015 by Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – The Daily News can reveal exclusively today that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joice Mujuru have been talking through emissaries over the past few months to explore how they can work together to challenge President Robert Mugabe and the post-congress Zanu PF in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
While official spokespersons for the two camps were coy about the ongoing dialogue yesterday — choosing instead to talk broadly about the need for like-minded forces to work together to engender and deepen democracy in Zimbabwe — well-placed sources said depending on the progress of the talks, the two leaders could meet formally soon.
The Daily News was told that among other meetings by various other players, former ambassador to Germany and close Tsvangirai confidante Hebson Makuvise, recently met former Presidential Affairs minister and key Mujuru ally, Didymus Mutasa, to “explore options”.
“As far as I understand, all options are on the table and the two groups are meeting with open minds to investigate how they can work together to free Zimbabweans from the yoke of Zanu PF’s dictatorship and oppression. They are concentrating on national interest and the many things that unite them, rather than those that divide them,” one of the sources said.
Contacted for comment, Mutasa said the People First movement would enter into electoral pacts with any party that was willing to do so, to remove the post-congress Zanu PF from power.
“We are ready for talks with everyone, be it Tsvangirai or Tendai Biti, because we want a coalition that can end the suffering that our people are going through,” Mutasa said.
Pressed further to say whether there had been talks between People First and the MDC formations, a demure Mutasa eventually admitted that there had been “several” such engagements.
“We have met emissaries from that side on several occasions, not once, and we will continue to engage with them,” Mutasa said without giving details, the names of the people they had met and the venues where the meetings had taken place.
On his part, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News that the main opposition movement “is always willing and able to coalesce with any other political formation with whom we share the same values, ideology and vision for our beloved country”.
“But let me also state categorically that the MDC is not desperate to enter into coalition with any other political party just for the sake of it. We are a party that is values and issues-driven, rather than being personality-driven.
“We understand that Joice Mujuru and her group are still to formally organise themselves into a political party. You can say that they are a child that has been conceived but is yet to be born. Why don’t we wait for the child to be born first and then we will determine the way forward,” Gutu said.
Asked specifically if the MDC, which has always preached the “big tent gospel” had held any talks with the People First movement, Gutu said no talks had taken place between the two political outfits.
“But let me hasten to add that, that doesn’t mean that we will not be talking to them in the future. These are very early days. What, however, we can assure the suffering and toiling masses of Zimbabwe is that the darkest hour is just before dawn.
“This is definitely the end game for the deeply-fractured Zanu PF regime. This regime will not last until 2018. That is for sure,” Gutu said.
But an MDC insider said it was “only natural” that his organisation would explore “possibilities” with Mujuru and People First, as “a cursory glance at Mujuru’s manifesto (the Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development — Build) and MDC policy documents shows a convergence of many ideas between the two groups”.
Kent University law lecturer and former close aide to Tsvangirai, Alex Magaisa, said it was critical in his view for the two parties “to park their egos and engage in coalition talks”.
The one major hurdle that Magaisa foresaw for the conceived grand coalition in the country would be the fact that there was no love lost between Tsvangirai and Renewal Team leader Tendai Biti, who was apparently very close to most of the top players within the People First movement.
Still, Magaisa said, it was time for the fragmented opposition in the country to set aside their personal differences and work together.
“Perhaps that will help the opposition leaders that they have more in common than the aspects that divide them, and that if they truly wish to overcome Zanu PF, they are better together. Egos will have to go.
“It is understandable, of course, that Mujuru wants to build her base and show her own credentials. If she is successful in pulling people to her side, it will give her bargaining power in any potential coalition talks,” Magaisa added.
Threatened by both the prospects of Mujuru and her People First outfit, as well as the potency of the manifesto that she released on Monday, a panicky Zanu PF, its senior officials and other sycophants have gone into overdrive over the past two days in a desperate bid to try and discredit her and her manifesto.
Tragically for many ruling party bootlickers, particularly those active on social media, the public sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive to the Mujuru manifesto, even as people have also said that they would like to see her explaining and distancing herself from her decades of association with Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Mugabe’s warring party split into two bitterly-opposed formations at the end of last year at the height of its internal ructions, with its purged liberation struggle stalwarts moving to initiate the re-establishment of the “original” Zanu PF — which uses the slogan People First.
In a statement on Monday, announcing her political outfit’s Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development (Build), Mujuru assured her supporters that she had been hard at work since her last statement in early June in which she savaged the post-congress Zanu PF and apologised to Zimbabweans for the mistakes that she and her erstwhile colleagues in the ruling party had made since 1980.
“I wish to share with you, in brief, how we propose to translate our vision for a better Zimbabwe into reality, through the proposed Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development,” she said.
Moving to distinguish People First from the post-congress Zanu PF, Mujuru said their policies would be informed by a desire to see Zimbabwe move forward as a proud member of the international community; a determination to create a just and equitable society in which all people would be treated equally in line with the founding principles of the liberation struggle; and a desire to see the country grow and create equal opportunities for all.
“Zimbabwe must move forward, economically, socially and politically. Let us BUILD Zimbabwe together,” she implored Zimbabweans, adding that the country belonged to all the people who called it home, regardless of colour, creed, disability, gender, race or religious background.
“Together we can BUILD Zimbabwe into a modern democratic State, with a vibrant economy where every citizen is responsible for peace, freedom, democracy and can prosper,” she said.
Explaining for the first time in detail what People First stood for, Mujuru said, “We are national democrats, guided by the values of the liberation struggle, of self-determination, self-dignity, self-pride, expressed through the adoption of market-driven policies under a constitutional democracy, with the State acting as a facilitator and regulator to allow for a level playing field and to provide equal opportunities for all”.