THE two MDC parties in the inclusive government and several other smaller political formations are reportedly planning to rally behind one presidential candidate in a grand coalition to supplant the President Robert Mugabe-led Zanu PF regime in next year’s harmonised elections.
REPORT BY MOSES MATENGA
Although the pleas to unite the pro-democracy factions against Zanu PF are as old as multi-party politics in the country, party and civic society leaders yesterday said if the move succeeds, it will ensure a resounding victory for democracy.
Political analysts also pointed to the advantages of a united front by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangira, Welshman Ncube’s MDC and Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) against a sitting dictatorship post every election.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “The position of the MDC is that it welcomes co-operation and unity of purpose of all progressive democratic forces for the purpose of the removal of dictatorship. It, therefore, has always co-operated with other political parties.
“The decision of what form of co-operation it will be will have to be made by members of the MDC itself. Our leadership would be guided by the decision of the national standing committee, national executive, national council, the provincial executive, district executive and ward executive. All leaders will have to make that decision.”
Mwonzora said: “Gone are the days of having little political fiefdoms and it’s time to have one strong candidate who has realistic chances of dislodging the dictatorship especially one who has defeated Mugabe before.”
The MDC camp also indicated it supported a grand coalition although it remained sceptical of Tsvangirai’s commitment to the deal.
A senior member of the MDC, David Coltart, yesterday said the 2008 election was lost because of split votes hence there was need for unity to “fight a common enemy”.
“This is probably the best that we can have. In 2008, elections were lost because of votes that were split,” Coltart said.
“(Welshman) Ncube and I are not in fact at odds on this issue. Both of us agree that in an ideal world, we should have a single united opposition against Zanu PF, but we both recognise that that is well-nigh impossible. In the circumstances, we should strive to agree on an electoral pact so that we do not split the vote as happened in 2008.
“We both know this will be very difficult and if there is any disagreement between us it is in how we rate the chances of obtaining an electoral pact. He (Ncube) is very pessimistic that this is possible whereas whilst I am also fairly pessimistic, I think it is still possible. My views in this regard should not be taken as any fundamental disagreement between us or any loss of faith by me in his leadership.”
MDC99 leader Job Sikhala added: “It’s good, but there is no one who should be automatically imposed on the people. It needs negotiation.
“It’s true the common enemy is Zanu PF and people want to work together to obtain democracy in Zimbabwe. It’s obvious we all want to see Mugabe’s back.”
Political commentator Charity Manyeruke said it was possible for the parties to unite ahead of elections as they shared similarities.
“It’s their right and it’s normal like what is happening in other countries to unite and confront a formidable force. It’s understandable. I see no differences between the two MDC formations in terms of orientation,” she said.
Gideon Chitanga, a PhD candidate, Rhodes University-Politics and International Studies and a Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, recently wrote: “There is no doubt that any attempt to patch a top-heavy elite coalition will not succeed.
“If such a coalition succeeds in rallying a number of elites and their supporters together, it may help in securing electoral victory without advancing democracy, and therefore can only secure minimal change if any.”
The two MDC formations have previously conducted successful pacts, particularly when they all rallied behind Lovemore Moyo’s election as Speaker of the House of Assembly in 2008 and 2011.
Recently the two MDCs presented similar positions to the constitution-making body, Copac.