BREAKING : Morgan Tsvangirai anointed coalition leader

August 6, 2017
| Report Focus News

HARARE – The country’s opposition yesterday ended months of speculation and bickering when it finally launched the much-awaited grand coalition which would be led by former labour union leader and MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Conspicuous by their absence at yesterday’s historic event were former vice president Joice Mujuru, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa and former Energy minister and MDC deputy treasurer, Elton Mangoma who now leads the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe.

A cross-section of Zimbabweans — including analysts, civic society and pressure groups — had consistently said a united opposition fronting one presidential candidate could bring to an end President Robert Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF’s rule in next year’s much-anticipated national elections.

Yesterday, the opposition leaders chose the historic Zimbabwe Grounds, the venue of Mugabe and returning nationalists’ welcome rally in 1980, to lay their foundation for a tilt at power which has been concentrated in the 93-year-old veteran leader since independence.

Alliance leaders who signed the pact include former Finance minister Tendai Biti of People’s Democratic Party, Welshman Ncube (MDC), Jacob Ngarivhume (Transform Zimbabwe) and Zimbabwe People First’s Agrippa Mutambara, a retired army chief.

They all took turns to endorse Tsvangirai as their candidate to take on Mugabe in the much-anticipated plebiscite.

In his keynote address, Tsvangirai said he personally brokered the alliance with his two estranged former secretaries-general, Ncube and Biti.

Ncube broke ranks with Tsvangirai in 2005 following an acrimonious disagreement over the party’s participation in that year’s senatorial elections while Biti left the MDC in 2014, a few months after the party suffered a thorough hiding during the previous year’s elections.

“I called the two of them to a meeting and asked them what kind of legacy they wanted to leave behind and everyone was in agreement that we did not need to leave a legacy of failing to remove Zanu PF from power.

“The three of us had serious introspection and said to ourselves how do we get the democratic breakthrough we have been fighting for over the past two decades?

“We listened to the demands of the people that we must unite; therefore this demonstration of unity is about Zimbabwe and not about us. The convergence for the need for unity cannot be doubted,” Tsvangirai told the cheering crowd.

“We have graduated from this needless and unhealthy competition. We are not yet there but I want to assure you that we will get there and with the demonstration of unity, we are giving the people hope that change is coming,” he added.

Yesterday’s launch of the electoral alliance and subsequent endorsement of Tsvangirai as its leader, brought to an end months of haggling and gamesmanship by both the former prime minister in the stability-inducing unity government and his enstranged colleagues in the-then united MDC.

It, however, still raises questions about wether a deal with Mujuru, who now leads the fledgling National People’s Party (NPP) would come through.

Despite signing a memorandum of agreement in May, which lifted the mood of thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans looking for an alternative to Mugabe and Zanu PF — Mujuru and Tsvangirai publicly disagreed on the pact’s leadership — fuelling suspicion that the much-hyped alliance would not take off.

Analysts had repeatedly said a coalition involving Tsvangirai and Mujuru would present a formidable challenge to Mugabe and his quarrelling colleagues next year considering that the widow of the late decorated liberation icon — Solomon Rex possessed strong liberation war credentials and intimate know-how of Zanu PF’s election mischief.

Mujuru’s absence left many wondering whether she would oppose the coalition and go it alone or join hands with Dabengwa and Mangoma.

Tsvangirai expressed hope that Mujuru and others would soon be joining the “big tent” despite the fact that the MDC Alliance is already portioning constituencies among themselves.

“Let us embolden this huge coalition for change, underpinned by the knowledge that we cannot do this alone in our exclusive social spaces. Let us reunite and join the MDC Alliance in voting for one presidential candidate, one parliamentary candidate and one ward representative under the banner of the MDC Alliance.

“August is that great month when we celebrate Heroes Day in Zimbabwe. It is befitting that we have chosen the month of August to showcase this one huge heroic act of togetherness through this massive crowd of many political colours that is gathered here in the Zimbabwe Grounds,” said Tsvangirai.

“It could only happen at no other venue but the Zimbabwe Grounds, that citadel of the national spirit. On the eve of every new dispensation in the history of this country, this venue has always proved to be an unshackled bastion and ceremonial home of people power.

“Today, we send a message to the world that together we are stronger.

“Indeed, together we can. And together, we will go far,” he added.

Speaking at the same event, Ncube earned himself wild acclamations from the expansive crowd when he apologised for the 2005 split and gave assurances that his party was now determined to work with others.

“By signing this agreement, we are reconciling ourselves to the agenda for change as at 1999 (the year when MDC was formed). We made mistakes along the way and so today, we say we are sorry for those mistakes.

“We are ready to correct them. Our biggest goal is to remove Zanu PF from power and then bring in our own governance systems,” Ncube said.

“By this unity, we are giving the people of Zimbabwe another chance to remove Mugabe and reset our struggle,” weighed in Biti.

Tsvangirai’s leadership was also endorsed by affiliate pressure groups and civic organisations including Zimbabwe National Students Union, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe and Tajamuka/Sesijikile declaring that should Mugabe rig the elections they were ready to defend their vote.

The event was also backed by organisations such as Concerned Citizens Support Network of Zimbabwe, Pastor Evan Mawarire’s #this Flag, SheVote, Combined Harare Residents Trust, among others.