In a savage slap down of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti, former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) has described the erstwhile top lieutenant of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as “politically drowning” and desperate to save his “sinking” ship.
By Mugove Tafirenyika
This comes after Biti’s PDP launched a scathing attack on Tsvangirai at the weekend, which led analysts to believe that this would make it even harder for the country’s fragmented opposition to work together ahead of Zimbabwe’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, ZPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire also accused some of the leaders of the country’s smaller opposition parties of effectively working to scuttle coalition talks by attempting to “stampede the process” and roping in “dubious” characters into the ongoing negotiations.
“There is a world of difference between adopting a big brother attitude and being politically astute and refusing to be rail-roaded into activities clandestinely choreographed by Zanu PF through proxies masquerading as think tanks or civil society actors.
“We know there are individuals who are politically drowning who see a coalition as the last straw they could possibly clutch onto in order to save their sinking political careers.
“We should not be rushed by such characters and their surrogate organisations because what we want to achieve is not a rescue package for failed politicians, but a sustainable roadmap to extricate the country from the economic, social and political mess which Zanu PF has plunged Zimbabwe into,” Mawarire thundered in his thinly-disguised reprimand of Biti.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, said while the former prime minister in the short-lived inclusive government respected the national sentiment in favour of a coalition, the MDC was nevertheless disturbed by Biti’s “tendency” to insult other leaders.
“What is also undermining the talks is what Biti is doing. How do you go about saying Tsvangirai is a fool and then talk about a coalition with the same person? Indeed, how do you build trust this way?
“How does a leader whom we also know has been deserted by his whole institution talk about a coalition? Are we supposed to look at a coalition of individuals? No, we want a coalition of institutions.
“Tsvangirai is aware of the national sentiment out there that all political parties should heed, that a coalition is a must, but that process can not be rushed,” Tamborinyoka told the Daily News.
The MDC and ZPF’s comments also come as analysts have said that Tsvangirai and Mujuru working together, represents the best prospects of the opposition ending President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF’s long rule in the watershed 2018 national elections.
The widening cracks among the country’s disjointed opposition became more glaring last week after the MDC and ZPF snubbed coalition talks that took place in Cape Town — rendering that gathering pretty meaningless.
Commenting on the Cape Town meeting on Thursday, Tsvangirai appeared to slam the door shut on the prospects of him ever working with his former comrades who deserted him and the MDC over the years, saying he did not see the sense of crafting a coalition with people who had previously made it clear that they did not wish to work with him.
He also said he had not seen the need for him to attend the meeting, which not only involved people who had left his party, but which he also deemed unclear in terms of its objectives.
Some analysts interpreted this as an indirect attack on Biti who once served as the MDC’s secretary-general before he acrimoniously parted ways with Tsvangirai, and whose PDP party has already witnessed its fair share of debilitating desertions.
But speaking on Friday following Tsvangirai’s outburst, some of the smaller parties scrambled to try and save the ongoing coalition talks when they held a hastily-arranged meeting in Harare to pacify him.
“We commit to reaching out to other leaders … we are not assuming that because they did not come to Cape Town therefore they will not come to Nyanga for example, when we meet again before the end of this year,” the representative of the 13 parties who met in South Africa, Simba Makoni, said.
“We are not enough as the 13 of us, hence the need to engage others. We gave ourselves up to before the end of this year to come up with a structure and working strategy for the coalition.
“We are committed to doing what is necessary to achieve this noble objective whose time has come for the benefit of Zimbabweans,” Makoni, who is also the leader of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) added. Daily News