THE highly-anticipated re-union between former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his ex-lieutenant People’s Democratic Party (PDP) front-man Tendai Biti hit a political iceberg this week after it emerged the latter still has to consult his structures.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/CLIFF CHIDUKU
Biti was supposed to be part of a contingent of opposition political parties to join hands in an alliance signing ceremony to be held today in the capital at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield.
But the former Finance minister, who has now requested time to look at the nitty-gritties of the deal, will attend the signing ceremony.
The parties failed to sign the agreement yesterday after other parties asked for time to go through the agreement, but the ceremony scheduled for today will go ahead, according to Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume, who was elected as the coalition spokesperson yesterday.
“We are on tomorrow (today). We have done the initial procedure according to plan and all parties are in agreement,” Ngarivhume said.
“Everything is set for the day and all parties will be endorsing the agreement. We have virtually agreed on everything and we are geared to fight the regime. Tomorrow (today) will be a very big day. Those that may say other things are welcome at the venue so that they see for themselves history in the making.”
In an internal memorandum seen by NewsDay Weekender yesterday, following the PDP’s management meeting on Thursday, Biti would not sign the pact with Tsvangirai and other fringe parties.
“Contrary to the recent Press reports, PDP shall not be signing the MDC Alliance agreement on August 5 (today). This is because negotiations on substantive issues have not yet been concluded, in particular, ‘Coalition framework’, seats distribution across the country and the 21 seats previously held by the party that are now under Zanu PF control.
Until these issues are resolved to the satisfaction of the party, no agreement shall be signed,” party secretary-general Gorden Moyo said in the communication to party members.
MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora confirmed the negotiations had hit a snag.
“We have not reached an agreement with them (PDP) yet. They have made it clear that they are not signing,” Mwonzora said without explaining.
Reports also indicated the PDP was demanding 53 seats countrywide anchored on the 21 seats previously held by members recalled by Tsvangirai in the mayhem that characterised the 2014 split.
Biti broke away from Tsvangirai following the 2013 electoral defeat to Mugabe that was marred by allegations of vote-rigging and intimidation.
Asked to comment on the authenticity of the letter, Moyo said: “It is not for (the) Press (but) internal party communication. Whoever gave you is mischievous.”
The memorandum said the sticking issues had been referred for discussion between secretary-generals Moyo and MDC-T’s Mwonzora “who are expected to find a workable formula”.
“The party also resolved that an ‘acceptable agreement’ shall be one that will give a majority of our MPs and councillors a fighting chance,” Moyo said.
He added that Biti would have to consult all party structures before signing.
“In accordance with our party constitution, president Biti together with his management team shall tour all the provinces ‘to consult’ the party structures before any agreement is signed,” he added.
Moyo added: “President Biti shall attend the pre-signing of the agreement tomorrow Friday August 4 (yesterday) to formally notify the leaders of the alliance about our party position.
“The president, Tendai Biti, together with a party delegation shall be attending the Saturday function in ‘solidarity’ with the initiative.”
Moyo said while the party’s negotiators continued to “grapple with the painstaking process of coalition building”, PDP members needed to continue focusing on building its structures.
Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s National People Party will also not be part of the today’s deal following a fallout with Tsvangirai despite the two being the first to pen a memorandum of understanding in April this year.