OPPOSITION parties’ talks to form a grand coalition to challenge Zanu PF presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa in this year’s polls have reportedly reached an advanced stage with several leaders, among them Joice Mujuru (National People’s Party), Dumiso Dabengwa (Zapu), Ambrose Mutinhiri’s National Patriotic Front (NPF) and several others stampeding to join Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance.
The MDC Alliance, whose presidential candidate is Chamisa, is a loose coalition involving seven opposition parties — namely MDC-T, Tendai Biti’s PDP, Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Transform Zimbabwe (Jacob Ngarivhume), MCD (Matthias Guchutu), Zanu Ndonga (Denford Musiyarira) and Zimbabwe People First led by Agrippah Mutambara.
On the other hand, Mujuru also leads another alliance known as the People’s Rainbow Coalition — made up of four opposition parties. These are NPP, Lucia Matibenga’s PDP, Zimbabweans United for Democracy Party led by Farai Mbira and Gilbert Dzikiti’s Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment.
In an interview yesterday, NPP secretary-general Gift Nyandoro said they would only decide the way forward after the wrangle between Chamisa and his rival Thokozani Khupe over use of MDC-T party symbols has been resolved.
“We have been following events which are unfolding with keen interest. We have learnt from our legal department that the courts are still to make a decision on the matter where our colleagues are trying to resolve their in-house challenges in the legal route,” he said.
Nyandoro said negotiations with Chamisa would not be difficult as the NPP and the MDC-T already have a memorandum of understanding signed in 2017 before
negotiations collapsed over minor administrative obstacles to do with symbols for the proposed coalition.
“We have an MoU with the MDC-T and until when such matter is resolved, we will remain guided on what steps to take. Our understanding is that our MoU is for MDC-T and we wait for the decision of the court so that we see who to approach and deal with,” Nyandoro said.
He added: “Time is running out but in a game of politics, a night is a very long time. The hopes are very much alive.”
Nyandoro claimed they had shelved coalition talks with MDC-T officials to give them time to mourn the passing on of their founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai who died in February after a long battle with cancer.
MDC-T spokesperson Tabitha Khumalo, yesterday said their doors were open for like-minded parties that wish to work under Chamisa.
“The possibility could be there but in terms of us as a party, our 2014 resolutions stated that we should work on the issue of convergence then form the alliance after which we have a big tent. So, all like-minded parties are welcome. If that is their wish our doors are open and we will cross that bridge when we get there,” she said.
Dabengwa also confirmed efforts were still underway to work on a grand coalition.
“The effort is still there and I think we are trying to remove some of the obstacles that have been hindering progress,” Dabengwa said.
Asked which parties were involved, Dabengwa said: “I think we are looking at the main formations that are there, the main alliances that exist.”
NPF spokesperson Jealous Mawarire said they were ready to join the Chamisa-led coalition provided it was all-inclusive.
“We have always been very clear that we subscribe to the notion of working together. We said we are working on our structures so that when we go for coalition we will bring substantial and invaluable capital to the objective of forming a coalition,” he said.
“For us the forming of a coalition entails quite a number of things, namely an objective analysis of areas where one party is strong and where it is weak and the deployment of the best candidates in those areas.”
Coalition of Democrats (CODE) leader Elton Mangoma also said his grouping had no problem working with people who shared same views with it.
“As CODE we have a formula of working with others. We said we will not use our names for the election. We use a common name and the agreement on what we are going to do for the country so that we don’t look at personalities but issues,” he said.