Harare,– Oordinary Zimbabweans on Wednesday expressed mixed feelings over the signing of a coalition agreement by five opposition parties on Tuesday with some saying the merger was headed for nowhere without the MDC-T.
The parties include Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile, Elton Mangoma’s Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ), Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Farai Mbira’s ZUNDE and the Democratic Restoration Assembly (DARE) led by Gilbert Dzikiti.
When they signed the so-called Coalition of Democrats (CODE) agreement, the parties named Dzikiti as their inaugural leader. The coalition’s leadership is rotational.
Tendai Biti’s PDP and Dumiso Dabengwa’s ZAPU attended the signing ceremony but did not immediately append their signatures citing the need to consult party members.
But some Zimbabweans interviewed said the coalition remained weak without the Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC-T which commands a bigger following in the country.
“Nonsense! The only opposition party we recognise is the MDC-T. These opposition parties even if they combine their support, will not even get 2% of the national vote,” said one woman who wanted to be identified as Chihera.
Callistus Manhanga, a Harare vendor, echoed the same sentiments, saying the coalition needed the MDC-T which he said was a bigger brand in national politics.
He cited the abortive merger between the Ncube’s MDC and PDP as a sign opposition parties were not ready to form a formidable united front.
“The MDC-T was the first to speak of the grand coalition,” Manhanga said.
“They called it a big tent, now a few individuals who are seeking a day’s news headlines. We know they won’t go anywhere without the MDC-T brand.”
Similarly, Melusi Manala, a university graduate based in Bulawayo said the coalition was all “child’s play” without the largest opposition party which he said helped stabilise the country during the short-lived Government of National Unity some five years ago.
“Mahumbwe (child’s play). Tsvangirai’s policies sounded well during the GNU; No one can oppose this, everyone who is saying Tsvangirai’s policies and ideologies are poor and is clueless, we need Tsvangirai for the coalition,” said Manala, a Marketing graduate from NUST.
Another woman who preferred requested anonymity said the ruling Zanu PF party would not lose sleep over what he said was a coalition formed among small parties without MDC-T.
“Tsvangirai is the only opposition party that Zanu PF fears. These people are here to cause confusion; they won’t even get 2% of the national vote even if they combine their efforts. For us, a coalition should have Tsvangirai,” she said.
However, Munyaradi Nhika, another university graduate, said Zimbabweans should infact embrace CODE as a step in the right direction towards unification of parties without looking at who led the parties.
“If indeed there is democracy in Zimbabwe, then it was going to be interesting to have a national debate from these leaders and also have their agendas and policies.
“I bet this coalition will win the masses. The problem is Zimbabweans vote for an individual not his ideology,” said Nhika.
An industrialist Marbel Zvirevo said that the MDC-T should learn to join other parties and shun its “big man” syndrome.
“Because of the failure to embrace other parties, MDC-T will remain an opposition party. People should grow up, every vote counts. If the 2% people are dismissing was added in 2008, the opposition could have defeated Zanu PF,” said Zvirevo.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu on Tuesday said they were not invited to the coalition further denying they were ignoring the coalition.