Opposition National Patriotic Front (NPF) leader, Ambrose Mutinhiri, has spurned an appeal by former president Robert Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, to throw his weight behind MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa, in next month's election.
Responding to Zhuwao's plea that he accept the reality that the two leading contenders in the coming elections were President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Chamisa hence he must make way for the latter, Mutinhiri told the Daily News yesterday that he would not withdraw from the race.
"Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and that includes Zhuwao but we have made our decision as a party that I am the candidate and that is not about to change now so I am still a candidate," Mutinhiri declared.
Pleading with Mutinhiri, Zhuwao said if the former Marondera West Member of Parliament genuinely sought to reverse Mnangagwa's rise, he could only achieve that by backing Chamisa.
"Given this reality, allow me to conclude, General, by saying that the overall objective of reversing the coup cannot be achieved by denying Chamisa the NPF vote and handing a victory to Mnangagwa on a silver platter," wrote Zhuwao last week.
"The 'next best' way of reversing the coup is to support the candidature of Nelson Chamisa. By supporting Chamisa, it is possible to reverse the coup. That, General, is politics; that is the art of the possible, the attainable; the art of the next best."
Zhuwao said Mutinhiri should step down because the NPF had failed to get enough candidates for the coming elections making it difficult to convince donors to sponsor the party.
"For any political party's presidential bid to be credible, it must be supported by a full complement of 60 senatorial candidates, 210 candidates for constituency members of the National Assembly, 60 candidates for the women's quota members of the National Assembly, 80 candidates for Provincial Council, and 1 958 candidates for local authority councillors," Zhuwao said.
"Such a strong representation effectively means there would be someone campaigning in all parts of the country for that party's presidential candidate".
Mutinhiri was adamant yesterday that he was unprepared to sacrifice his supporters' aspirations on the altar of "unknown donors whose agenda we do not know".
Mutinhiri resigned from Zanu-PF this year citing his unhappiness in the manner Mugabe was deposed last year in a military operation that saw Mnangagwa emerge as successor to the 94-year-old former strongman.
The former Mashonaland East provincial minister during the Mugabe era, went on to form the NPF which Mugabe pledged to support as he was out to reverse the "November 15 coup".
The NPF has since split, with former Bulawayo provincial minister Eunice Sandi Moyo, who was the national chairperson of the NPF, emerging as the new acting president after firing Mutinhiri whom she accused of blocking an opposition grand coalition with Chamisa.
Sandi Moyo, along with Generation 40 kingpins, among them Zhuwao and former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo have since thrown their weight behind Chamisa.