ZIMBABWE People First leader Joice Mujuru, MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe and the party’s secretary general Douglas Mwonzora as well as MDC proportional representation MP for Matabeleland South Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga reportedly met in South Africa last week to discuss plans to form a coalition ahead of the 2018 general elections.
By Wongai Zhangazha
This comes as it emerged MDC-T leaderMorgan Tsvangirai is still struggling with continued illness despite being discharged from a South African hospital last month.
According to sources, Mujuru, Khupe, Mwonzora and Misihairabwi-Mushonga had a meeting in Polokwane to discuss various issues affecting opposition parties in Zimbabwe, although the major subject was the need to form an alliance to dislodge President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF from power.
The meeting was held on Tuesday and the quartet returned to Zimbabwe the following day.
The sources said the parties agreed there was need for the opposition parties to contest the 2018 elections as a united front, although the modalities of the grand coalition were yet to be thrashed out.
The meeting was before Mujuru addressed during her maiden rally as a member of the opposition at Stanley Square in Makokoba, Bulawayo, on Saturday.
Mujuru lost the Zanu PF and State vice-presidency at the ruling party’s 2014 congress before being expelled from the party in 2015.
ZimPF spokesperson Jealous Mawarire confirmed the former vice-president was in South Africa last week, but said he was not aware of the meeting.
“She was on a private business which was ambushed by our coordinators in South Africa. Those are the people she met. I am not aware of the meeting you are talking about,” he said.
Mwonzora also confirmed he was in South Africa with Khupe, but denied attending the meeting.
“It is not true that we had a meeting with People First. We (him and Khupe) were in South Africa for a completely different business, that is our internal party business,” he said.
Mushonga also denied having a meeting with the trio, but said she met her opposition counterparts on the plane.
“I absolutely have no idea of such a meeting. I met Khupe, Mujuru and Mwonzora in the plane where I greeted them. Besides in what capacity would I be meeting them?”
Sources in the opposition, however, insisted the officials had met to lay the groundwork for a coalition.
In May, five opposition parties signed a Coalition of Democrats (Code) agreement to guide them towards forming a coalition ahead of the 2018 polls.
The agreement, seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, was signed by Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD), Professor Welshman Ncube’s Movement for Democratic Change, Elton Mangoma’s Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe as well as the little known Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment led by Gilbert Dzikiti and Zimbabweans United for Democracy.
MDC-T, ZimPF and the Tendai Biti-led People’s Democratic Party and Zapu led by Dumiso Dabengwa did not sign the document.
Following the signing, analysts, however, said an opposition alliance without Mujuru and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was likely to be ineffective.
According to the Code agreement, the mission of the coalition is to be a “democratic platform, where likeminded political parties, bound by common values and objectives, collectively take responsibility for providing leadership and opportunities which address the multiple and complex challenges facing our nation”.
While it is still not clear who will lead the coalition or how they will work together, the political parties said they shall be guided by principles of working and cooperating with others in an equal, open and respectful manner, respect and observance of collective decision-making, equality, diversity, tolerance, and respect for all and each other, non-violence, tolerance and the peaceful resolution of issues and conflicts among many other principles.
The coalition said its objective was to engage in joint programmes, activities, actions and programmes that facilitate the objectives of achieving a peaceful prosperous and democratic and socially just Zimbabwean state and to work for the economic development and upliftment of every Zimbabwean through various programmes and activities, including the production and presentation of documents and blueprints that will assist the objectives.
The agreement states that a Governing Council, comprising all the presidents or principals of the party, will design a framework for candidate selection and nomination in fielding one presidential candidate.
The parties agreed that the coalition will have its own distinct symbols and logos separate from those of the parties that are its members, for the purposes of participating in elections and sponsoring candidates or doing any other programmes.