HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai secretly met with former Vice President Joice Mujuru last week, raising fresh hopes among long-suffering Zimbabweans that the two will work together to end President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s misrule in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
By Fungi Kwaramba
Since Mujuru, who now leads the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), joined hands with Tsvangirai and marched with him on the streets of Gweru in August this year — in a rare public display of unity among the opposition — there have been growing calls by fed up citizens for the formation of a grand opposition alliance.
Well-placed sources in both the MDC and ZPF told the Daily News yesterday that the two opposition figures had met at Mujuru’s Chisipite home to discuss Zimbabwe’s worsening political and economic rot, as well as the framework for the formation of a grand coalition.
“They met on Thursday last week at Mai Mujuru’s home. What is happening is that they are actually meeting regularly, alternating the venues. The previous time they met at MT’s (Tsvangirai) place.
“During their latest meeting, the two also discussed Mai Mujuru’s recent visit to the UK and Sweden, as well as the other myriad issues affecting the country,” a ZPF insider said.
“At the meeting, Save (Tsvangirai’s totem) raised questions on the recent reports of discord in People First, particularly the issue of leadership tussles. He was promised that a national convention would soon be held and that there would be a clear leadership,” an MDC source said.
While Mujuru is heavily tipped to lead ZimPF, concerns have been raised inside the party that it may have been seriously infiltrated by State security agents, who are desperate to slow down its progress and jettison any prospects of it working with the MDC — particularly as most of its officials are predominantly former Zanu PF stalwarts.
Contacted for comment, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka — while denying knowledge of the meetings between the two leaders — reiterated that the MDC had tasked its leader to lead coalition talks with Mujuru to minimise discord and confusion.
“There is a national mood out there, which we are very much aware of, that expects opposition parties and the broader opposition movement to work together ahead of 2018.
“In the MDC, it is president Tsvangirai who has been tasked by the party to personally deal with all issues that have to do with the possibility of a coalition and working with others, as we know there is strength in working together.
“As the president has often said, this is the time to talk about conditions and not positions and that is why tomorrow (today) the president will be meeting with other leaders of Nera (the National Electoral Reform Agenda) to talk about electoral reforms,” Tamborinyoka said.
“No one other than the president and the MDC understands the value of working together with other parties, and things are definitely happening outside the headlines of journalism and newsroom diaries. Remember, these are sensitive matters that are allergic to megaphone diplomacy,” he added.
The Daily News understands that Nera partners are expected to discuss the government’s imminent introduction of bond notes, as well as the progress that has been made on the implementation of much-needed electoral reforms in the country.
Amid all this, newly-elected Norton legislator Temba Mliswa has said a grand opposition coalition led by Tsvangirai and including war veterans would beat Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF hands down in the watershed 2018 polls.
Speaking to the Daily News a fortnight ago, the gutsy Mliswa said among the lessons that Zimbabweans and the country’s brutalised opposition could learn from his stunning victory in the Norton by-election was that they could once again defeat Mugabe and Zanu PF, just as Tsvangirai and the MDC had done in 2008 — as the ruling party was “nothing” without the backing of war veterans.
Despite battering and bribing voters with residential stands, as well as printing and distributing fake MDC flyers to confuse the people of Norton, Zanu PF was given a royal hiding in the keenly-followed by-election which was resoundingly won by the former ruling party bigwig.
Mliswa blew out of the water Zanu PF’s little-known Ronald Chindedza to win the constituency following the expulsion of former war veterans’ leader and Cabinet minister Christopher Mutsvangwa from the ruling party — which is being devoured by its seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional and succession wars.
He polled 8 927 votes to Chindedza’s 6 192, to deliver a hammer blow to Zanu PF which was bidding to avoid defeat in Mugabe’s own backyard, as well as preventing disgruntled war veterans who campaigned for Mliswa from gaining a measure of revenge on Mugabe and his former liberation movement, following their recent hounding out of the party.
This was also despite the fact that the Norton by-election had been marked by violence, the controversial parcelling out of residential stands and mega rallies by vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, among other prominent Zanu PF politicians, as they drummed up support for Chindedza.
Analysts and opposition officials who spoke to the Daily News also said Mliswa’s unexpected victory had raised optimism among both pro-democracy groups and the ranks of the opposition that the 2018 national elections could be up for the taking.
Mliswa said the support that he had received from Tsvangirai and the MDC, war veterans, village heads and ordinary Zimbabweans, among many other people, was both “amazing and critical”, and a sign-post to what would happen in 2018 if “like-minded people come together”.
“To be honest and truthful, I wouldn’t have won this seat had it not been for Morgan Tsvangirai. He promised to support me to make sure that I win the election and true to his word, he came to the party. He dispatched his team and MDC vice president Nelson Chamisa was actually on the ground campaigning for me.
“Even when Zanu PF unleashed violence on us, Chamisa was caught in the crossfire and inhaled teargas just like all of us. It’s a fact of life that Tsvangirai has the people. It took him just to advise his structures to work with me and victory was delivered.
“The war veterans also played a crucial role in my victory. That is why it is important for Tsvangirai to lead the planned opposition grand coalition in 2018 which will involve everyone, including war veterans,” Mliswa said.
“If Tsvangirai decides to accommodate Mai Mujuru, then so be it, but that man is not only popular and genuine, he is also a natural leader and a father figure. The people of Zimbabwe like him and we can’t take that away from him,” he added.- Daily News