FRESH fissures have rocked the opposition MDC-T leadership, with party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, giving discordant views on the proposed grand coalition to contest against President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF in next year’s elections.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
With Tsvangirai having declared that a coalition deal, particularly with Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader Joice Mujuru, is as good as done, Khupe yesterday literally threw the cat among the pigeons, arguing the MDC-T may not need partners in the Matabeleland provinces.
Khupe, one of Tsvangirai’s three deputies together with Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri, in a move that seems to ring-fence her area of influence, suggested that the proposed alliance should only be confined to Mashonaland, as MDC-T structures in the Matabeleland region have consistently won against Zanu PF since the turn of the millennium.
“I am not against any coalition, but for me, the question that we must ask ourselves is why we want a coalition as a political party,” she said yesterday.
“As a political party, when you want a coalition, you would have realised a gap in your party and as the MDC, where is our gap?
“It is clear our gap is in Mashonaland East, West and Central, where we have consistently not done very well.
“So, when looking for a coalition partner, you must look for a partner, who is going to be able to cover that gap.”
Khupe argued that any coalition pact with other parties in Matabeleland would only result in a poor showing in the next elections.
“You can’t look for a partner, who will come and disturb, where you have won consistently since 2000. Where you have gotten 100%, what will that person do? What value are they going to add? On a coalition, you must want value addition to what you already have,” she said emphatically.
“You don’t want someone, who will come and disturb what we already have. What we don’t have right now is Mashonaland and that is where we need a strong coalition partner and that is the only way we are able to remove Zanu PF.”
Khupe’s remarks, while flying in Tsvangirai’s face, seem to buttress a stark warning issued by the MDC-T president’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, on possible internal plots to derail efforts to forge a coalition, as he claimed there were others who wanted to scupper the process “for subjective motivations driven by selfish and personal interests to do with positions”.
“I can only promise one thing to the people of Zimbabwe: Never mind the sceptics — and there are many of them around — Mugabe will contest against a united opposition in 2018,” Tamborinyoka wrote for NewsDay.
“Yes, the people are speaking and we are listening. Future generations will not forgive us if we let slip this chance to consign misgovernance to the dustbins of history.”
In an interview, Tamborinyoka maintained that Tsvangirai had the sole mandate to discuss coalition issues, but pointed out that party organs and members had a right to express their opinions.
“We are a democratic party, so our members are free to express their feelings,” he said.
“But, I must say that the MDC’s executive organs have given our leader, president Tsvangirai, an exclusive mandate on issues of the coalition.
“We are not going to be dragged into discussing issues of nuances and strategy in the media. We will not negotiate in the media.”
Tsvangirai is said to have courted the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, but negotiations have seemingly stalled, as the MDC-T’s Matabeleland structures are sceptical of a reunion with their former secretary-general.
In 2007, a unity deal between the two parties failed, as the MDC-T’s Matabeleland structures once again refused to join hands with the MDC, a decision that later proved fatal, as Tsvangirai missed the Presidency by a whisker in 2008.
Tsvangirai has just concluded a 10-day consultative tour of the Matabeleland region, where he claims to have received a mandate to forge an alliance with other opposition parties and select a single candidate to challenge Mugabe in the 2018 presidential race.