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Why grand coalition failed

THE mooted grand coalition to challenge President Robert Mugabe’s grip on power suffered a stillbirth, mainly because of disagreements over allocation of parliamentary seats, leadership structure and power sharing should it win the polls.

Paidamoyo Muzulu

The coalition was being mooted by the MDC-T, MDC, Zanu Ndonga, Zapu and Mavambo/ Kusile/ Dawn (MKD) following their collaboration in opposing Mugabe’s unilateral proclamation of election dates without implementing outstanding reforms.

MKD and Zanu Ndonga withdrew their presidential candidates as a sign of their commitment to the mooted coalition and also in the hope of speeding up the negotiation process.

However, the grand plan came to a crashing halt last Friday after the MDC and Zapu leaders filed nomination papers to contest the presidential polls.

Sources said talks involving MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti and his colleagues Jameson Timba and Elton Mangoma; the MDC pair of Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Paul Themba-Nyathi; MKD leader Simba Makoni, Zapu’s Dumiso Dabengwa and Reketayi Semwayo of Zanu Ndonga collapsed over power sharing as the MDC formations refused to compromise on their demands.

“The two MDC formations failed to agree on allocation of local authority seats, National Assembly members and the drawing up of party lists for the senate, women’s quota and the provincial councils,” said the source.

“The MDC demanded 30% of all contested seats under the coalition – a condition which MDC-T strongly disagreed with saying it was only ready to concede between 10% and 15% of all seats,” the source said.

Talks of a coalition started when the two parties were already at an advanced stage of conducting party primaries, leaving them with a headache on how to ask their candidates to withdraw in favour of the coalition’s approved list.

They were further thrown into disarray when MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe said she was not ready to step aside for MDC leader Welshman Ncube because she had been elected by congress, amid speculation he had been offered the vice-presidency in the proposed grand coalition government.

MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said: “MDC-T welcomes any unity of purpose and collaboration of all progressive forces to get rid of dictators and the party is mindful that in the talks, equalising the unequal is a form of gravy injustice.”

Ncube said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had not invited him to form a coalition although he has seen media stories on the issue.

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