OPPOSITION parties’ proposed grand coalition to challenge President Robert Mugabe’s reign in next year’s general elections is now set to be officially launched on August 5, NewsDay can exclusively report.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Sources involved in the coalition talks confirmed the date yesterday, saying seven parties minus Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party (NPP), had officially endorsed the pact with the official launch to be held at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare, on Saturday next week.
The coalition talks started last year, but the process has been dogged by several hitches, among them mistrust among party leaders, prompting others such as Mujuru to pursue their own separate alliances.
The process was initiated by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Mujuru, Welshman Ncube (MDC), Jacob Ngarivhume (Transform Zimbabwe) and Tendai Biti (People’s Democratic Party).
Sources said Tsvangirai was now expected to launch the project with Biti, Ncube, Ngarivhume and Zanu Ndonga, among others.
“This is what we have agreed. Initially, it was the MDC-T, MDC, NPP as well as Transform Zimbabwe, but it has been agreed that we should expand it to accommodate other parties,” a source close to the developments revealed.
“As for NPP, the party has shown some reluctance and the principals said the party can join them at a later stage if they so wish. It was agreed not to rush them.”
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Mujuru is reportedly pursuing a different coalition altogether after she signed two memoranda of understanding with two other parties from the Coalition of Democrats (Code).
These are Zimbabweans United for Democracy, led by Farai Mbira, and Democratic Assembly for Reform and Empowerment (Dare).
Her fishing from Code has left other political parties infuriated, accusing the NPP leader of trying to destabilise the coalition efforts.
Sources added that an initial meeting would be held on Tuesday, with principals and two representatives per party.
Initially, Tsvangirai had announced that a coalition would be in place by the end of this month.
Another meeting will be convened next Friday for finalisation before the Saturday ceremony.
In November, Tsvangirai and Mujuru snubbed an In Transformative Initiative-organised meeting in South Africa, which was largely attended by smaller parties to broker a coalition deal.
In May this year, about 16 parties were in South Africa again for coalition negotiations dubbed Mass Opposition Movement (MOM), but the initiative has seemingly hit turbulent waters.
After the MOM meeting, more than 20 parties tried to renew the united coalition bid under the Zimbabwe National Electoral Reform Agenda platform, but the negotiations collapsed after Tsvangirai and others protested, saying some of the leaders at the negotiating table had no party structures.
This did not go down well with smaller parties, who accused Tsvangirai of adopting a “big brother” mentality.