POLITICAL parties this week spurned MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s call that they should rally behind him at the next elections expected mid-next year, saying the premier should not impose himself as the envisaged coalition leader.
In separate interviews, Zapu and MDC-M said it was premature and unwise for Tsvangirai to declare himself the sole presidential candidate to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
The revived Zapu, led by Dumiso Dabengwa, said although it was a good idea to unite and back one candidate, Tsvangirai might have prematurely ended any possible debate on the matter by imposing himself as the candidate.
Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo said: “The idea of a single candidate is noble but what’s not noble is for Tsvangirai to rush and declare or impose himself as the preferred candidate.”
Moyo suggested that the best way would have been for the executive committees of all parties to jointly and extensively discuss the idea and come up with an agreed formula of selecting the candidate.
“Tsvangirai should view other parties as equal partners. There are other credible candidates besides him who might be elected and also even in his own party some people could be calling for a fresh candidate,” he said. “He has twice been a presidential candidate and failed to deliver, so by joining him what guarantee is there that he will deliver also bearing in mind that he has a tendency of boycotting elections as testified by the 2008 runoff.”
Dabengwa has already indicated that he would stand for the presidency, while Welshman Ncube of the MDC-M is tipped to also run for the post if he is successful at his party’s congress early next year.
MDC-M spokesperson Edwin Mushoriwa said they would not support one candidate because Tsvangirai messed up a similar arrangement in 2008.
He said: “We have not been approached by anyone and as a party we have not done the same to other parties. The truth of the matter is that we are surprised to hear Tsvangirai say that other parties should join forces around him to remove Mugabe.
“He (Tsvangirai) should recall that in 2008, we (MDC) mooted the idea of one solid candidate and agreed but only to be shocked to see Tsvangirai reneging at the last minute.”
Asked if they would back Tsvangirai again as the sole candidate, he said they would not.
“Events of 2008 revealed that Tsvangarai is not aiming at removing Mugabe so he should not be trusted. As a party we are busy organising our congress for early next year, in which we will come up with a leader to field when elections are called,” said Mushoriwa.
Meanwhile, Mavambo, Kusile, Dawn (MKD) said they would contest the presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
MKD leader Simba Makoni, who received little more than 8% of the presidential ballot in the March 2008 elections, said his party was definitely participating in the election.
“If and as and when an election is called, we are going to participate,” he said.
Tsvangirai told his party supporters in Bulawayo that MDC-T was the “main front” in the struggle for democracy, adding that opposition political parties should rally their supporters to support his candidacy against Mugabe to ensure a resounding victory.
“MDC-T is the main front for the struggle, civil society and other political parties should come and join us for a common objective of defeating the enemy,” Tsvangirai said last Saturday in his address to party supporters at Entumbane Hall. “Time has come for all political parties that believe in the struggle of the people to unite. For all those united against Zanu PF, the most effective way is of one candidate.”
Nelson Chamisa, MDC-T spokesperson this week said: “Something is being done to form a formidable alliance.
“Tsvangirai was simply articulating the idea of a preferred option that would build a formidable alliance to crush forces of darkness (Zanu PF),” he said. “So all those progressive forces should take heed of the call and join us.”
However, he was not willing to reveal whether a formal approach to opposition parties would be made.
In reaching out to opposition parties to join him, Tsvangirai issued a broadside at other political party leaders saying their existence is to divide votes resulting in the failure to remove Zanu-PF during elections.
Said Tsvangirai: “But there are some (political party leaders), even if they have three supporters, they want to be a (presidential) candidate. We don’t want people like Simba Makoni who would come up just eight days before elections and say I am contesting.
“But we hope that by the time we go for elections we will be having one candidate (Tsvangirai) and that way we won’t divide votes.”
However, Makoni described the two leaders of the MDC formation, Tsvangirai and Mutambara, as “confusionists” who decide when to stay or pull out of government.
He said people should not be fooled by the MDCs, which constantly claim the country was not ready for elections.
“The country will not make itself ready – it has to be made ready… It is odd the parties (MDCs) say the country is not ready and not say what they are doing about it,” Makoni said. “They are part of the government that should make things work. They have no excuse for not participating. They can’t have their cake and eat it – when it suits them they are in and out when it doesn’t”.
Nqobile Bhebhe/Taurai Mangudhla