ZIMBABWE’S opposition parties are discussing ways to ensure electoral reforms are introduced and that there is an even playing field ahead of the 2018 general elections by which time they hope to have formed a grand coalition to dislodge President Robert Mugabe from power, the Zimbabwe Independent has leant.
Several officials in opposition politics said there were also plans to rope in civil society in its efforts to push for electoral reforms. They will also support and help to organise protests and stay-aways.
The coalition talks come at time Mugabe is struggling to control internal fights in Zanu PF. Mugabe’s cash-strapped government is also struggling to pay civil servants while desperately trying to contain rising protests sparked by the deteriorating economic conditions.
Parties in the talks include MDC-T, Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), Zapu and People Democratic Party (PDP).
Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa said the meetings were centred around ensuring that Zimbabwe has an environment conducive for holding free and fair elections.
He said coalition talks would be held at a later stage.
“What is important is to have a united front whose aim is to tackle a number of issues, for example electoral reforms. Tackling these issues needs the involvement of civil society and all stakeholders,” Dabengwa said.
“Once you do that you work together over a number of issues and at the end of the day you will be able to find each other. We are doing it to create a platform for free and fair elections. So you work towards those goals and when we draw towards the elections that is when we can discuss about a coalition. We have been meeting to discuss these issues and we have not yet reached a consensus but the meetings are ongoing.”
ZimPF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said the meetings were focused around ensuring that the next elections are held in a conducive environment.
“Discussions with other political parties are taking place in the interest of Zimbabwe. We don’t believe in working in isolation, we believe that as opposition parties we must get together one way or the other without interfering with each party’s ideology, objectives, structures and programmes. No, we don’t want things that are controversial where people end up fighting for leadership,” he said. “All we want now is for political parties and civil society movements to come together and form a minimum platform with benchmarks. Come together to form a united front, where we support each other for example in stay-aways and demonstrations, fighting for our rights as people of Zimbabwe.”
Last month ZimPF leader Joice Mujuru, MDC proportional representation MP for Matabeleland South Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe and the party’s secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora met in South Africa to explore the possibility of forming a coalition.