A PROPOSED coalition deal between Joice Mujuru, leader of the National People’s Party (NPP), and Tendai Biti of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which was due to be signed yesterday in Harare, stalled at the last minute owing to “sticking” issues that needed to be ironed out.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
The two parties’ failure to enter into a deal further casts doubt on the opposition’s capacity to form a coalition against President Robert Mugabe in the next general elections.
Mujuru, who has a standing bilateral coalition agreement with MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was due to sign another with the PDP leader, but the deal flopped after Biti’s team failed to turn up amid claims there was bickering in the PDP camp over the deal with the former Vice-President.
NPP secretary-general-designate, Gift Nyandoro confirmed that the proposed signing ceremony had stalled at the last minute for reasons best known to Biti.
“Our technical team had worked on all the modalities and had prepared everything for the ceremony and we were ready to have the same done, but it did not happen because the team from PDP did not turn up,” he said.
“We are yet to get communication from them on what could have happened that made it not possible to sign the deal.”
But PDP spokesperson, Jacob Mafume told NewsDay the signing was deferred to attend to sticky issues in the proposed memorandum of understanding (MoU).
“We will not be signing the agreement today (yesterday), but it will be signed,” he said.
“There are sticking issues that had to be agreed on before the signing and these are being addressed. For today (yesterday), we will not be signing anything.”
Sources in the PDP said while Biti wanted the deal, he was being opposed by Lucia Matibenga, who felt a pact with Mujuru would be akin to selling out.
Matibenga is reportedly more inclined to signing a deal with Tsvangirai rather than Mujuru, but, on the other hand, Biti is reportedly against his former boss.
Biti’s party recently nominated 100 prospective parliamentary candidates, who will contest in the 2018 elections, a move seen as a hint that his party was ready to go it alone in next year’s polls.
As consolation, Mujuru later settled for an MoU with the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (Zunde) at the NPP’s offices in Avondale.
Mujuru inked the deal with Zunde leader Farai Mbira, committing her party to coalitions, saying only a united front would dislodge Zanu PF in next year’s elections.
“We were both in agreement (NPP and MDC-T) at the time that we needed to avoid the big sister, big brother mentality and promote the spirit of inclusivity, inclusivity being one of our core values as NPP,” Mujuru said.
“As you may be aware, MDC-T has signed two more MoUs with MDC and Transform Zimbabwe. It is in the same spirit and in keeping with the provisions of our MoU with MDC-T that today we are signing an electoral alliance with Zunde.”
She said most media reports on the talks were untrue because her party was committed to delivering a grand coalition.
“Politicians being politicians, I know there has been a lot of bickering, posturing, grandstanding and speculation happening in the media, but I want to assure you that behind the scenes negotiations have been going on in earnest,” Mujuru said.