A local newspaper claimed on Wednesday that former president Jacob Zuma warned Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa against joining forces with a new party linked to former president Robert Mugabe.
Chamisa leads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance of opposition parties challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF in elections due next month.
Mugabe, according to The Standard, is reported to have recently sent "numerous emissaries" to Chamisa's camp with an offer of "technical, moral and political" support in return for several seats for the National Patriotic Front (NPF), a party rumoured to have links to Mugabe and his wife Grace, as the former first family frantically attempts to derail President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election bid in next month’s watershed polls
The Daily News, citing "well-placed sources" said Chamisa had however, "opted not to work with Mugabe and Grace after former South African president Jacob Zuma apparently relayed a message to him via one of the Alliance principals, to the effect that it was ‘impolitic' and that some of Mnangagwa's lieutenants were not amused by the dalliances with the nonagenarian (Mugabe) and his wife".
Mnangagwa rose to power after a brief military takeover in November that led to Mugabe's resignation. Another source told the paper that the MDC and its allies had already backed off from a possible deal with the NPF as this would have "upset both their own support base and hawks in Mnangagwa's government".
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, the former defence forces chief who led last year's army takeover, stirred controversy after he told a rally at the weekend that next month's polls should "conclude" the army operation that removed Mugabe from power.
Chamisa's spokesperson condemned those comments as "unfortunate".
"These statements must be reversed, otherwise this will confirm that this election is run by the military," Nkululeko Sibanda told the paper.