KEY negotiators in Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC Alliance and Joice Mujuru’s People’s Rainbow Coalition have reportedly left for South Africa for fresh talks aimed at providing opposition parties with a platform to form a broad coalition to challenge Zanu PF presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa in this year’s elections.
Coalition for Democrats and other relatively small parties were reportedly part of the negotiations that will commence in Cape Town, South Africa, tomorrow and would be facilitated by international groups.
Intriguingly, the newly-formed New Patriotic Front (NPF), which is linked to the G40 faction in Zanu PF, reportedly has an interest in the new coalition talks and was pushing for Mujuru’s inclusion.
This followed a meeting between Mujuru and former President Robert Mugabe last week, where the latter reportedly apologised for pushing her out of Zanu PF and government.
Sources said the coalition talks were being disguised as a workshop.
An invitation letter gleaned by NewsDay read: “In Transformation Initiative (ITI), International IDEA, Trust Africa and the Zimbabwe Co-ordination Group (ZCG), IRI, Osisa and HSF would like to formally invite you to participate in an experience sharing workshop to review best practices and lessons learnt in electoral and governing coalition building across Africa.
“The organisers recognise your personal experience, expertise and interest in this subject.
“The first day will consist of experiences from selected countries and the second day has been kept relatively open to enable more organic discussions.
“This, we hope, will enable participants to engage more effectively with each other on specific matters of mutual interest.
“The first day of the workshop will entail conceptual and theoretical presentations and practical interactive sessions during which participants will discuss and reflect on strategies, tools and resources to enhance effective coalitions.”
MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said it made a lot of sense to attend since he has previously presented papers on coalitions in other countries.
“It is a workshop for sharing experiences on coalition building in Africa,” he said.
“Our understanding is that since we have formed our coalition in Zimbabwe, the purpose of the workshop is focusing on how to make meaningful coalitions and avoid the obvious problems associated with alliance building.
“For us, it is an educational workshop, it is not to firm on anything, so we are not going to South Africa to form any coalition with anyone.
“We don’t have to go to South Africa to do that.”
Mujuru was reportedly already in South Africa.
Her spokesperson, Gift Nyandoro, initially promised to look into the matter, but was not answering his phone later.
According to the sources, MDC Alliance partners were in sixes and sevens as to the way forward, although there was consensus that they would boycott the meeting.
“You might find some within the alliance expressing interest in the meeting, although it has been agreed that all principals must not attend,” a source said.
“The basis being that Mujuru was invited to join the alliance, but she refused and nothing has changed. In fact, there is suspicion that she wants to hijack the alliance because Tsvangirai is not feeling well.”
In the MDC-T, the meeting would reportedly put rival factions at loggerheads, as some were interested in the meeting while others were not.
“About four people were invited to the meeting in South Africa, the three vice-presidents Nelson Chamisa, Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe, together with the secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora.
“However, since Tsvangirai has not given the green light, the leaders might not go fearing that they will be chastised within the party for attending such meetings that Tsvangirai himself previously snubbed,” the source said.
Others claimed yesterday that former Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, personally phoned some opposition politicians inviting them to the meeting.
They told NewsDay that Kasukuwere was of the view that since Tsvangirai was not feeling well and might not be in good shape by the time of elections, opposition parties should rally behind Mujuru.
“There is more than what meets the eye. Kasukuwere was calling some leaders and personally inviting them to the meeting,” the source said.
“He was saying since the MDC-T is failing to agree on the way forward, it might be prudent for everyone to rally behind Mujuru,” claimed another source.
“This has raised eyebrows, considering that Mujuru refused to work with the MDC Alliance and that she is linked to Mugabe again, this might work against the coalition, hence, some leaders are hesitant.
“They view this as disingenuous to the real transformation that the genuine opposition is seeking.”
Former G40 kingpins – Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao – reportedly worked behind the scenes to form their own party, NPF that will challenge Mnangagwa at this year’s elections.
Last year, ITI tried in vain to bring the opposition parties together following a series of meetings in South Africa.