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Why MDC unity talks collapsed

Augustine Mukaro

THE second attempt to reunify the two factions of the MDC collapsed on February 3 after the formations failed to agree on the proposed coalition agreeme

nt put together by the top 10 leaders from both sides.

The bone of contention remained the distribution of parliamentary seats between the two camps.

The opposition MDC split into two formations in October 12 2005, resulting in the Arthur Mutambara-led formation having its congress in Bulawayo in February 2006 and the Morgan Tsvangirai formation in Harare in March 2006.

The Mutambara faction last week released details of the events culminating in the failure of the transitional coalition agreement.

On February 2, the two MDC formations’ national councils were in the morning presented with the transitional document that the top 10 leadership from both parties had agreed upon for consideration.

They were told of endless debates held until the early hours of the morning, saying they faced the hardest negotiations of their lives.

The document tabled showed a comprehensive reunification process, which would culminate in a congress shortly after elections dissolving both parties and making one reunited MDC.

The document also set out the distribution of parliamentary seats between the two formations while declaring that all sitting MPs would not be contested.

It also spelt out that the formations would field a single presidential candidate to be chosen by the Tsvangirai formation.

The new seats allocation gave the Tsvangirai formation approximately 70% in six provinces, 50% in the Bulawayo province and 30% in the three Matabeleland provinces.

The Mutambara faction expressed concern over the seats allocation, but agreed to adopt the agreement.

By 12.00hrs midday they had adopted the agreement and were ready to meet with the other team to sign it.

Instead, they waited for four hours while the Tsvangirai formation debated.

Eventually the Mutambara formation’s top 10 were called back into negotiations in which they were informed that the Tsvangirai formation’s national council had not accepted the transitional coalition agreement so they needed to go back into negotiation amongst themselves.

From 16.00hrs until 20.30hrs, the Tsvangirai formation was demanding two more seats in Bulawayo. The Tsvangirai formation was then asked to make a decision by the next morning, as the Mutambara formation could not yield to the demands.

On Sunday morning February 3, the Tsvangirai formation brought an entirely new and different set of demands to the negotiating table. They now demanded 50% of all the Matabeleland and Bulawayo seats, including those where the Mutambara faction MPs were already sitting.

The new demands were rejected, prompting the Mutambara formation to call a press conference to announce that they were going it alone.

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