Fourteen Zimbabwean opposition parties met in South Africa this week where they signed commitment agreements to kickstart formal negotiations to form a grand coalition that will field one presidential candidate next year, NewsDay can exclusively reveal.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Sources told NewsDay yesterday that Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T, Joice Mujuru’s NPP, the Welshman Ncube-led MDC and Jacob Ngarivhume’s Transform Zimbabwe stayed away from the deal on the basis that they were pursuing another electoral pact. However, some of the parties attended the meeting.
The negotiations were initiated by In Transformative Initiative (ITI), an organisation that seeks to assist and support peace-making processes drawing from the South African experience.
ITI works towards promoting dialogue among citizens, government and any other sectors where conflict and violence exists or might become an option.
The deal came after the parties met in South Africa late last year where formal negotiations began.
Although some political leaders in South Africa vehemently refused to talk about the deal yesterday claiming this would jeopardise the ground covered so far, some confirmed saying they would be working together under the Mass Opposition Movement (MOM).
Elton Mangoma, RDZ leader, said they were now geared towards bringing change come next year.
“Yes, it’s true that 14 parties have signed. We have cleared the nucleus for all parties to work together,” he said, adding that another party was likely to sign the deal.
Marcellina Chikasha, the leader of the little-known African Democratic Party, also confirmed the agreement.
“We have agreed to form a united front that includes all stakeholders with the purpose of fielding one candidate per contested seat,” she said.
Ncube’s MDC said although it had representatives in South Africa for the coalition meeting, they didn’t sign the deal.
“The party is represented at the meeting,” party spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said.
“We are a democratic party guided by the party organs. We want some time to consult the owners of the party before inking any deal. It must also be noted that we already have a marriage with other political parties in Code [Coalition of Democrats].”
After signing commitment agreements to work together, a task force has been set up with a road map on how they will distribute the constituencies.
Sources in South Africa, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the deal, but didn’t divulge the finer details in the signed agreement.
“Another coalition is in the making. The players are virtually interested and out of the 16 parties that attended, only two refused to sign claiming they still want to seek the approval of their constituency considering that they are apparently negotiating another coalition deal with the MDC-T,” the source said yesterday.
“What this has done is to pile pressure on the MDC-T which has not been so open with regards to the coalition. Some are not happy with the exclusionary tendencies with the coalition set up by Tsvangirai.
“Some have a feeling that even the MoUs signed by MDC-T together with MDC and NPP might fall apart since there are too many backroom fights concerning that. However, there is a general feeling that two coalitions will not work because that is practically splitting votes.”
Other international organisations were reportedly pushing for the new deal with or without the MDC-T, reportedly after losing patience with the exclusionary tendencies applied by the MDC-T and its other partners.
PDP leader Tendai Biti, who was reportedly in talks with Tsvangirai, also signed the deal with the other 13 parties.
Asked on their position, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said they would make their announcement once they were done with the negotiations.