FORMER Information minister and independent legislator for Tsholotsho, Jonathan Moyo, is set to join hands with the opposition MDC to save the seat unch
allenged under the banner of a united front.
The proposed alliance will allow smaller parties to field candidates in constituencies where they enjoy support to avoid vote splitting.
Sources in the MDC said both factions had assured Moyo that they would not field candidates in the constituency for legislative elections this year as long as he was part of a united front.
“Both MDC camps recognise the need to forge alliances with smaller parties and independent candidates to fight (President Robert) Mugabe’s government,” one of the sources said. “Moyo will not be contested in Tsholotsho by the factions.”
MDC Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesman Nelson Chamisa said they were considering an all-encompassing movement to confront a single enemy — Zanu PF.
“If independent candidates or small parties come to join hands in the united front, we must respect the space they are fighting from,” Chamisa said in an interview this week. “There would be no reason for people with the same goal to fight for the same space.”
He was, however, quick to mention that the reunification meetings between the two MDC factions would unpack the finer details of how candidates would be chosen for the 210 constituencies.
The two MDC formations this week confirmed that they were engaged in consultations to draw up the agenda and set the date for the formal meeting to seal the reunification process.
The meeting is expected to finalise the choice of the opposition presidential candidate and the selection criteria for parliamentary candidates.
Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the Morgan Tsvangirai formation, confirmed that they were carrying out informal discussions but refused to disclose details for fear of jeopardising them.
The Arthur Mutambara-led formation’s secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the consultations were being held with a view to setting the date for the meeting and drawing up a list of delegates.
In principle, all the democratic forces in the country — including the two MDC formations — agree on the one (presidential) candidate philosophy.
Although the Tsvangirai-led MDC has emerged as the stronger of the two, it has become evident that a united front is the only feasible way towards dislodging the ruling Zanu PF government.
Previously the talks failed after the formations disagreed on fundamentals of a code of conduct to be observed in the process of reunification.
The sources in the opposition said when the idea of a single candidate was mooted, the proponents of the strategy came up with a “non-aggression pact”, a code of conduct plus rules and regulations that were to be observed to promote the initiative. However, the conditions met mixed reactions from the opposition leaders.
Sources said Mutambara wanted the agreement to be made public to all members of the opposition and other pro-democracy movements as a rallying point to win the electorate. Tsvangirai on the other hand opted for mobilisation of stakeholders quietly arguing that making the strategy public would expose it to Zanu PF infiltration.
Although leaders of both factions of the MDC support the fielding of a single candidate in the election to face Mugabe, the differences on the framework could scupper the effort.
Observers said in fielding one candidate the people of Zimbabwe will have a much better chance of defeating the Zanu PF regime. There are frantic efforts to strike a common position for the two parties.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) last month said in a report the MDC would greatly benefit from reconciliation to salvage its domestic and international image, which has suffered since the October 12 2005 split. The report says personal friction remains the key obstacle to reunification.
Joining forces had raised stakes and chances for the opposition parties to mount a formidable challenge to Mugabe and a possibility of wrestling power from Zanu PF.
But the collapse of attempts to unite the factions would give Mugabe an added advantage over his rivals and a political windfall in the elections.
Observers have questioned whether Tsvangirai or Mutambara, individually or collectively, could defeat Mugabe if the polls go ahead in March. While it is generally agreed that Mugabe is much weaker now than ever before given rivalries in his own party and an economy in freefall, it is also true to say that opposition leaders are even weaker, especially divided.
Mugabe is under siege on many fronts. The collapsing economy is blamed on mismanagement by his regime while internal wrangling in Zanu PF has created serious faultlines. Mugabe is isolated inside his party and internationally.
However, he has the state machinery on his side. He also has a lot of resources at his disposal to prop up his rule, the sort of things Tsvangirai and Mutambara can only dream of.