NATIONAL People’s Party (NPP) leader Joice Mujuru, who was recently endorsed as the People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC) presidential candidate, has reportedly made moves to engage MDC-T and MDC Alliance leader Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured) to form a broader coalition of opposition parties to take on Zanu PF’s President Robert Mugabe in the 2018 presidential election.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Officials in the Mujuru camp said the launch of the PRC last week had given the former Vice-President some air under her wings and better bargaining power to negotiate for a bigger stake in the proposed all-encompassing grand coalition.
“She now wants to approach Tsvangirai from a position of strength because she can claim her own bloc of support and what is clear is Mujuru does not want to be a junior partner in this coalition and is not looking to be a deputy either,” a highly-placed source said.
NPP secretary-general and acting treasurer-general Gift Nyandoro confirmed the development yesterday, saying his boss was ready to “tango” with Tsvangirai based on conditions set out by her party.
“We stated our definition of a people’s coalition and we are prepared to find anyone within that scope and that’s what we have simply done. We don’t look at personalities, but we are value and principle-driven. If we are wrong, then history shall judge us accordingly,” Nyandoro said.
“Consensus building is a process that requires honesty, integrity and sincerity. It’s not about one claiming to be strong over the other, but coming up with a framework that promotes confidence and unity within the rank and file.”
Mujuru’s other partners include the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) splinter group led by Lucia Matibenga, Zimbabweans United for Democracy Party led by Farai Mbira and the Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment headed by Gilbert Dzikiti.
The other condition set by NPP was that leadership of the proposed coalition should be decided through primary elections.
Mujuru, however, seemed to have disregarded some of her party’s demands after she was elevated to lead
the coalition in elections held in a boardroom shortly before the launch of the PRC.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu yesterday said the door was still open for Mujuru to ink a broad coalition deal with Tsvangirai despite the teething problems blighting the project.
“Talks are still ongoing with a number of opposition political parties, including the NPP, for the purpose of forming a strong and formidable opposition coalition,” he said.
Tsvangirai’s supporters, on the other hand, have declared that they will not settle for any presidential candidate other than the former trade unionist, who is currently battling cancer of the colon.
The MDC Alliance includes PDP led by Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Transform Zimbabwe of Jacob Ngarivhume, Zanu Ndonga headed by Denford Masiyarira and the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats led by Mathias Guchutu.
The NPP had initially refused to join Tsvangirai’s MDC Alliance, arguing it could not be part to a coalition deriving its name from one political party.
It, however, remains unclear if newly-elected Coalition of Democrats presidential candidate Elton Mangoma’s group was prepared to join Mujuru and Tsvangirai’s big tent.
The Mangoma-led coalition has nine parties, namely, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe, Zapu (Dumiso Dabengwa), Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe led by Barbara Nyagomo, Zimbabweans United for Democracy Party (Mbira), Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment (Dzikiti), African Democratic Party (Marceline Chikasha), Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (Simba Makoni) and ZimFirst (Maxwell Shumba).
Both Dzikiti and Mbira, who have a separate arrangement with the NPP, absented themselves from the elective meeting in Harare last week.
The leaders expressed confidence of winning the 2018 elections, although they said they would not distribute the seats, but would support the most popular candidate in a particular area.
Mugabe, despite his advanced age and ill health, has declared that he would not lose sleep over opposition plans to coalesce against him, dismissing the project as “a coalition of zeros”.