MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai says his tenure as Prime Minister of the now-defunct Government of National Unity (GNU) had taught him to stay away from coalitions, effectively ruling out the possibility of joining hands with other opposition parties ahead of the 2018 elections.
Tsvangirai told journalists in Gweru last week that President Robert Mugabe’s “deceitful behaviour” during the GNU showed him the dangers of coalitions based on differing ideologies.
“Given such experience (GNU), we would rather get legitimately elected and be given the mandate by the people to rule. If you don’t have shared vision, you can’t have partnership and you waste a lot of time tearing each other apart, pursuing different agendas,” he said.
His comments came just days after MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora declared they were not keen on coalescing with other opposition parties.
“I can confirm that the party has decided to shelve any coalition plans. We have carefully analysed the situation and realised that other opposition parties do not have much to give to the coalition in terms of following,” Mwonzora told a local weekly last week.
“They do not have any significant following and so we have said let us concentrate on rebuilding our party and strengthening it.”
Insiders say Tsvangirai and hawks in his party have been buoyed by the large number of MDC-T supporters that turned up for the anti-corruption demonstration held in Harare two weeks ago.
“After the demonstration, some in the party began to think we could go it alone. On the other hand, that thinking played right into the hands of those that have been arguing against a coalition. That group is made up of people who are scared of losing their positions in the event of a grand coalition,” top party officials said.
Talk of a grand coalition ahead of the 2018 election has been growing since the emergence of former Zanu PF Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) political outfit.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said Tsvangirai had the final say on all matters to do with coalitions.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said: “President Tsvangirai is seized with the issue of conditions rather than positions. Coalitions by their very nature bring to the fore the issue of positions rather than conditions, which is unnecessary. Zimbabweans are currently suffering because of conditions and not positions and that is what we are concerned with for now. It is too early to talk of coalitions.”
Following the bloody presidential run-off election in June 2008 which the MDC-T boycotted, Tsvangirai and Mugabe were forced into a shaky partnership that also included former Industry minister Welshman Ncube’s smaller MDC faction in an arrangement sponsored by regional bloc Sadc and the African Union.