MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s “No Reforms, No Election” campaign in areas where other opposition parties have fielded candidates for the June 10 by-elections could endanger an envisaged grand coalition, NewsDay has learnt.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
A senior official in the Dumiso Dabengwa-led Zapu yesterday warned that the former Prime Minister’s “contradictory behaviour” had serious repercussions on efforts to find common ground by opposition forces ahead of the 2018 elections.
“Tsvangirai is sending wrong signals through his ‘No Reforms, No Election’ campaigns in areas he is aware that opposition parties have fielded candidates,” the Zapu official said on condition of anonymity.
“If he was a man seeking out others, who wants to co-operate and work together for the democratisation of the country, one would have expected him to either urge his supporters to vote for our candidates or better still stay away and shut up than come in and campaign for ballot spoiling.
“It is his contradictory nature that at times can be very difficult to understand and for any rational person to put up with.”
After his party’s decision to force through a constitutional requirement that outlaws floor-crossing, Tsvangirai decided to boycott the by-elections earmarked for June 10.
He has since embarked on a whirlwind tour of the provinces in which the snap polls will be held urging his supporters to “spoil” their ballots.
However, in the biggest indication yet that all is not well within the MDC-T and in particular the growing fissures in the Matabeleland provinces, Dabengwa told NewsDay in an interview yesterday that MDC-T structures had indicated they would defy their leaders.
“The MDC leadership at the top is boycotting, but their structures at provincial, district and constituency levels have indicated that as long as there is an alternative, they will not spoil their ballots, and that alternative is Zapu,” he said.
“They have also approached our candidates and promised to vote for them.”
But MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu called on his party’s supporters to toe the official line.
“It would be a sad development if there are any of our members who are defying the directive to boycott the by-elections,” Gutu said.
“It will be very unfortunate if that were true, but my plea to our members is that all genuine MDC members are disciplined and know that we are not taking part in any electoral process even indirectly until our demands for reforms are met.”
Gutu said he did not see how his party’s stance might endanger future co-operation with other opposition forces.
“No, I do not see how a well thought-out stance to refuse to sanitise Zanu PF’s electoral thievery can pose a danger to co-operation now or in the future,” he said.
“We have been very clear that we would like to work with like-minded organisations to rid Zimbabwe of the scourge that is the ruling party.”
Dabengwa said the MDC-T decision to recall MPs aligned to the Renewal Team after last year’s split smacked of intolerance.
“We think there is a disconnection between the leadership of the party and their structures.
“This disconnect is also seen in the loss of the seats in the first place,” he said.
“The decision by the MDC-T opened up these seats to Zanu PF and we are of the opinion that Tsvangirai needed to exercise some tolerance and work with the Renewal people until the next general elections or try to resolve their differences.”
Tsvangirai was criticised in some quarters for the decision to recall MPs, which was seen as a gift to Zanu PF.