Monday, 16 May 2016

OPPOSITION GRAND COALITION IN LIMBO

THE coalition of opposition parties against the ruling Zanu-PF in the 2018 elections is reportedly in limbo as the MDC-T and Zimbabwe People First parties are non-committal towards the collective effort. 

Zanu-PF swept the 2013 harmonised elections leaving all opposition parties in a chaotic state and some on the brink of collapse.The party has consolidated its dominance by winning all national assembly by elections since the 2013 polls in filling vacant seats left by Zanu-PF and MDC-T legislators either by expulsion or death.

Sources close to the coalition negotiations have revealed that about nine smaller parties including the Professor Welshman Ncube-led MDC and the Tendai Biti-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are in possession of the coalition proposal document waiting for a signing ceremony.

The document, according to sources, should be signed before the end of this month. However, MDC-T and ZimPF are reportedly not in possession of the document as they were not part of the coalition negotiations amid frantic efforts by the smaller parties to get them on board.

With the resistance to the coalition from Tsvangirai’s party and Mujuru’s fence sitting tactics, the coalition, according to sources, is likely to suffer a stillbirth.

MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu on Friday said he was not aware of the coalition document. “I’m hearing this for the first time,’’ he said. Pressed on whether the party had changed its stance on a coalition, Gutu said: “Let me repeat what I’ve always said. At the right moment in time, at the opportune moment, you the media will be the first to know.”

ZimPF spokesperson Methuseli Moyo also professed ignorance over the document adding that he wasn’t in a position to comment on the coalition negotiations. However, sources insisted that all the other parties have the coalition document save for MDC-T and ZimPF.

“Fears now are that the two parties won’t commit themselves and in their absence the whole concept of a coalition is doomed,” said a source. MDC-T sources said the party had chosen to concentrate on planned demonstrations around the country whose numbers they want to use to bargain in the coalition.
The party last month held violent marches that left a trail of destruction in the capital, Harare, where rowdy youths destroyed property in a number of shops including Choppies Zimbabwe. “After the Harare demonstrations, there was a feeling in the party that we hold demonstrations in other provinces to gauge the party’s numbers. The demonstrations will show who among the parties has the highest following and when negotiations are made, parties will be asked to put what they’ve on the table,” said the source.

“This way the MDC-T is expected to gain an advantage at the negotiations although some feel that the party can go it alone.” Already, there are divisions within Tsvangirai’s national executive with some members opposed to the idea of a coalition.

The MDC-T’s secretary for local governance and Bulawayo South legislator, Eddie Cross, is on record as saying the majority of the party is against a coalition.The party’s secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora, also said the MDC-T had taken a step back from coalition negotiations to go it alone.

The Joice Mujuru led ZimPF has been accused of sitting on the fence over the coalition.“The feeling is that ZimPF still wants to test its popularity first before the coalition,” said another source.

“The other thing with ZimPF is that there was an expectation that suspended members of Zanu-PF censured for being part of Mujuru’s grouping at the time of her expulsion would jump ship, but contrary to expectation, they’ve remained in Zanu-PF. Some of the censured ones have even appealed against their suspensions.”

MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said: “I can’t deny or confirm the existence of such a document. What I know is that people are bilaterally and multilaterally talking. I’m not aware of the numbers or characters involved but what’s correct is that the MDC isn’t in coalition talks with anyone at the moment.”

The coalition’s current chairperson and Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa was not reachable for comment, However, a source within MDC said the party was in possession of the coalition framework crafted two years ago.

“What we have is a document that was crafted about two years ago and we haven’t started the talks but we’re in the process of putting a framework for a coalition to begin,” said the MDC source. “We’re still in the process of finding each other. Nothing will stop the coalition with or without the so called big brothers and sisters. In the event that we find each other, we’ll proceed with the discussions.” chronicle

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