Thursday, 3 August 2017


Zimbabwe’s opposition political parties could fail to form an alliance to fight the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections against President Robert Mugabe, a South Africa-based think tank, NKC African Economics (NKC), has said.

Mugabe, 93, is seeking an eighth and final term after winning the 2013 race against veteran politician Morgan Tsvangirai, 56, whose MDC is one of the main opposition parties uniting.
The alliance seems to be failing the test to agree on a single candidate before the vote without splintering.

Tsvangirai, who has lost three elections, wants to run again but is facing challenges from others in the opposition alliance.

He disputed the results of the last vote in 2013 and the election in 2008, whose first round he won, but was followed by weeks of deadly political violence in which about 200 people died.

NKC analyst Gary van Staden said the main point on the agreement between opposition parties was that the viability of any coalition would depend on the ability of the various components to work out key issues — leadership in particular.

The think tank said it appears that these issues are going to hamper the formation of a viable coalition no matter what the protagonists are claiming now.

“Both opposition heavyweights clearly believe they should lead the coalition, and both have viable claims, but they also both have significant weaknesses. Tsvangirai missed a real chance of removing Mugabe in 2008 and was then outmanoeuvred by the president during the unity government.

“The question remains whether he has what it takes to defeat Mugabe. Joice Mujuru, meanwhile, sat silent at Mugabe’s side while he perpetrated a series of crimes against his people, and she must deal with issues of trust that arise from that.

“Mugabe and Zanu PF are ripe for the political plucking, but only if the opposition can unite and be decisive over what it wants most,” Staden said.

Mujuru, who now heads the National People’s Party (NPP), is hedging her bets on joining a coalition of all opposition parties to challenge Zanu PF in elections expected in the third quarter of next year.

In April, a potential major development in a possible defeat of Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF at next year’s elections was an agreement by opposition groupings on a united front against the only party and president an independent Zimbabwe has ever known. Tsvangirai and Mujuru signed an agreement to work together.

NKC warned at the time that while this was a “movement that could mature into a viable challenge to Zanu PF and Mugabe, it could just as easily disintegrate as the parties and their leaders are drawn into issues around who the presidential candidate should be. Both leaders have strong claims.”

Barely a few months later, the Transform Zimbabwe political party leader Jacob Ngarivhume, one of the signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding with Tsvangirai’s MDC, told local media that Mujuru was “grandstanding and not committed to a coalition of all parties ahead of the polls”.

Mujuru has denied the allegations and suggested that forming a coalition was a process not an event. She has pledged her commitment to forming electoral alliances with other opposition parties.

What she did not say was with which parties and whether the final coalition would include both her and Tsvangirai.

In addition, her later comments included the statement that if people were demanding she lead, then she would have to listen — a clear reference to the thorny issue of coalition leadership that Tsvangirai believes is his right. Daily News


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