PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has reportedly been shaken by the weekend’s events, where opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) counterpart, Joice Mujuru jointly addressed a campaign rally in Gweru, as they draw close to sealing a coalition deal.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA/PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
ZimPF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo yesterday told NewsDay that Mugabe called Tsvangirai on the eve of the Saturday rally after receiving intelligence of the combined meetings in Gweru.
“Mugabe is scared, that is why he called Tsvangirai on the eve of the rally and demonstration and asked him if it was true that he was joining hands with Mujuru. Why else would he call if he was not afraid?” he said.
Gumbo said Tsvangirai met top MDC-T and ZimPF leaders just before their joint demonstration and rally in Gweru and informed them of the “surprise call from Mugabe”.
Gumbo said while the two political parties still needed to sit down and formalise the proposed grand coalition, the Gweru show had set the tempo towards uniting all democratic forces opposed to Zanu PF rule.
“It was a good starting point and given that it happened in Midlands, the marrow of the nation. Moving forward, we need to involve all democratic forces so that we agree on the minimum platform of engagement and continue to collaborate on programmes that require such collaboration,” he said.
“We do not want to be bogged down by leadership squabbles or speculation of who will get what leadership position … until when we are going towards elections, where we might present one candidate.”
A top MDC-T official, who declined to be named, confirmed reports of Mugabe’s call to Tsvangirai.
Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, could not be reached for comment, as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Zanu PF politburo member, Jonathan Moyo expressed concern over the show of unity between Tsvangirai and Mujuru and called on all Zanu PF members, mainly in the politburo and central committee, to take note.
Part of his post on Twitter read: “Excuse me comrades, especially members of the politburo and central committee, please take note of what Teurai (Mujuru), who used to denounce MDC, is doing.”
MDC-T vice-president, Nelson Chamisa, said Zanu PF had every reason to be afraid, given the latest political developments in the country, coupled with public anger over the deteriorating standards of living.
“A combination of love, peace and unity cannot be defeated. Opposition forces coalescing around an idea, whose time has come, cannot be defeated and it is now time for progressive forces in Zanu PF to stand up and speak out,” he said.
The Mujuru/Tsvangirai joint addresses came hardly 24 hours after eight opposition parties — MDC-T, PDP, Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, MDC, Zunde, Zapu, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe and Dare — met in Harare and jointly issued a statement in support of peaceful demonstrations against Mugabe’s rule.
The parties also indicated they were working towards a coalition ahead of the 2018 crunch elections.
“It’s not so much what we may think as individual political parties, it’s the reality. The reality is we have to come together, the reality is we have to form a coalition or, at the very minimum, have an alliance before 2018,” PDP president Tendai Biti said.
Zanu PF, which has previously scoffed at the prospect of a coalition of opposition parties, is currently sharply divided along factional lines.
So pronounced are the divisions that Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo took an unprecedented move and personally wrote an article in the State media, declaring Mugabe as the party’s sole candidate for the 2018 elections.
A group of war veterans led by Christopher Mutsvangwa has already ditched Mugabe, spelling doom for
the embattled 92-year-old leader, whose previous election campaigns have been supported by former freedom fighters.
Chombo, in his article, could have been jolted by growing public calls for Mugabe to step down over his failure to arrest the economic gravy train.
Part of his article read: “President Mugabe has been presented by his own party, Zanu PF, as its candidate after he was endorsed as its leader until 2019. This means in 2018, President Mugabe will be the electoral candidate for Zanu PF, as he has to serve his five-year tenure. Therefore, President Robert Mugabe is going nowhere”.