TALKS among five opposition political parties based in Matabeleland region to form a regional pact ahead of this year’s general elections have reportedly collapsed as the leaders could not agree on a number of issues, among them the coalition’s name, Southern Eye has learnt.
The parties include Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T faction, Zapu led by Dumiso Dabengwa, secessionist Mthwakazi Republic Party (Mqondisi Moyo), Lovemore Moyo’s United Movement for Devolution (UMD) and Moses Mzila Ndlovu’s Alliance for National Salvation (Ansa).
Sources said the opposition parties have been burning the midnight oil, with the last meeting held in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
The talks, according to sources, were centred on the need to form a Matabeleland alliance to challenge Zanu PF, the MDC Alliance and People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC) among other parties in the upcoming elections.
Moyo, who once served as Speaker of Parliament and MDC-T national chairman, confirmed yesterday that the talks had collapsed.
“We have been discussing as various political parties, in particular parties that are led by people from this region. We have been hoping to find each other and possibly find ways of co-operation, collaborating as we go for elections, but the talks have collapsed, for now,” the UMD leader said.
He, however, declined to be drawn into details of the negotiations and cause of the impasse.
But, sources said the talks collapsed after the Khupe-led MDC-T formation insisted on the coalition running under the MDC-T banner, a demand resisted by other parties.
Zapu national council, though in support of a coalition, was against a regional-based pact, arguing it would be a betrayal of its members in other parts of the country.
The MRP, UMD and Ansa reportedly dug in their heels, insisting on the need for a regional coalition to contest seats only in Matabeleland since they were regionally-based.
All the opposition parties, except the Khupe-led MDC-T faction confirmed the developments.
Ansa’s Mzila-Ndlovu said: “As parties concerned with plight of the people of Matabeleland, we thought we will make a greater impact if we have a common front, but the talks collapsed over differences on the formation of the regional alliance.”
MRP leader Mqondisi Moyo blamed Zapu and Khupe for causing the talks to collapse.
“We have been having these meetings to try and build a regional alliance to defend the Matabeleland political space, but the talks never came to fruition because Khupe and Zapu said they were national parties, and hence difficult for them to sign a regional alliance agreement.
“As for the MRP, we are clear that we have no interest in what happens in other regions, but Matabeleland. We are clear that we cannot be in an alliance or political setup that defends national interests at the expense of the region.”
MRP, Ansa and UMD have declared interest to contest upcoming elections, but only in Midlands, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South.
Zapu chairperson Isaac Mabuka confirmed the party’s anti-regional alliance stance was to blame for the talks’ collapse.
“We are agreed that we can unite with other parties from the region, but what we find difficult is to form a regional alliance when we are a national party. We would have betrayed our members who come from other regions.
“Zapu, if you check our history, it has always been national and the late Joshua Nkomo would have risen from his grave if we were to sign a regional party alliance, however we are still open to work together on a cooperative basis as we go for elections,” he said.
Abednico Bhebhe, chairperson of Khupe’s MDC-T formation, however, denied reports that the party was involved in the unity talks although sources insisted that he was the party’s representative in the meetings
Khupe was also said to be in talks with People’s Rainbow Coalition presidential candidate Joice Mujuru.