Opposition parties mull coalition

A NEW groundbreaking initiative — similar to Kenya’s National Rainbow Coalition which brought President Mwai Kibaki to power in 2002 — is on the cards on a mission to end President Robert Mugabe’s 28-year rule in 2008.



align=justify>Informed sources said the unification plan was being discussed by the main opposition figures, including leaders of the split Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) — Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.


The plan to form a broad united front — to be named the New Patriotic Front (NPF) — against Mugabe is also circulating in the civil society and diplomatic circles.


A founding Memorandum of Understanding for the arrangement is expected to be signed by September 30. The NPF, which will include political parties, civil organisations, trade unions, consumer groups, ex-combatants, women, churches, students and individuals, is expected to hold its inaugural convention in December after Zanu PF’s annual conference, to prepare for the 2008 presidential poll if it comes. Mugabe is said to be planning to postpone the election to 2010 to either give himself two more years in power or to allow his successor — if ever one is found now — to consolidate his/her position.


The move to form the NPF follows a meeting of opposition parties and their leaders in Harare last weekend during a convention organised by church leaders.


Tsvangirai and Mutambara met for the first time since the latter seized leadership of one of the two MDC factions in February. Sources said the NPF would be formed around Tsvangirai who is expected to be backed by Mutambara and others such as United People’s Party president Daniel Shumba, Zapu Federal Party president Paul Siwela and Wurayayi Zembe of the Democratic Party.


Mutambara has said he is prepared to work with anybody who will restore the MDC’s founding values of upholding the constitution and the politics of non-violence.


The Mutambara faction’s secretary-general Welshman Ncube however said this week the meeting must not be interpreted to mean his leader wants to join Tsvangirai’s camp. Ncube has also said he will work with anyone who respects the MDC principles of the respect for the constitution and the rule of law.


Sources said the NPF would have its own constitution which would enshrine commitment to fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, non-violence, and political and civil liberties.


“The NPF should view such things as sovereignty and patriotism to mean and encompass democracy, human rights, transparent and accountable governance, respect for private and community property rights, and the rule of law under a constitutional democracy,” the sources close to the plan said.


They said there were proposals for regular meetings under the banner of the Informal Brainstorming Group where founding values and strategy would be discussed.


A group called the Informal Working Party would be formed to generate policy ideas to ensure the alliance is not founded on the basis of only removing Mugabe from power but also on what to do next.


“What is needed to make this succeed is serious work behind the scenes to ensure that a well-thoughtout and carefully planned project is delivered,” a source said.


“This means everybody has to put national and the people’s interests above their political ambitions. We have got to learn and understand as a country and people politics from a broad picture perspective rather than a from a narrow, self-aggrandisement standpoint.”