MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has scoffed at the so-called coalition talks among opposition parties that ended in South Africa Thursday, insisting that Zimbabwean political parties do not need an external hand to bring them to the negotiating table.
This comes amid reports that several opposition leaders were last week invited to South Africa by an international think-tank, In Transformative Initiative (ITI), to facilitate talks aimed at choosing one opposition candidate to challenge President Robert Mugabe in the 2018 presidential elections.
But Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe People First leader Joice Mujuru boycotted the meeting held in Cape Town.
Addressing journalists in the capital on Thursday, where he was welcoming back party deserters, such as Paul Madzore and Pearson Mungofa, Tsvangirai said he chose not to go because the agenda was unclear to him.
“There was no reason for me to attend. How do you introduce a subject that you have not planned with me?
“But that doesn’t mean I am underplaying the role of coalition talks. I don’t even know who is co-ordinating it and what mandate they have to co-ordinate us in that manner,” he said.
“Have we failed as Zimbabweans to sit down and talk among ourselves? Do we need outsiders to organise ourselves? I didn’t see it necessary to go to that meeting. Is it a crime? (But) that doesn’t underplay the issue of coalition.”
In what appeared a subtle stab at people who quit his party, Tsvangirai said: “You don’t leave a party and go on the side and say come let’s join, yet you left the party and then say now let’s have coalition talks. Why did you leave in the first place?”
He said there was a strong national sentiment for the opposition to unite, but there was still need to build trust among opposition leaders.
According to sources in South Africa, Mavambo/Kusile leader, Simba Makoni was tasked with issuing a statement on what transpired during the talks.
“We appointed Simba Makoni to give a statement we prepared upon return,” one of the opposition leaders, who requested anonymity, said.
“We agreed to form a broad coalition and we are preparing an MoU (memorandum of understanding), which all leaders must sign within 30 days after consultation with their parties. The MDC-T and ZimPF will be invited to the coalition.”
Tsvangirai told the news conference yesterday that they were preparing for the 2018 elections although they would continue pushing for electoral reforms.
Turning to Wednesday’s demonstration, Tsvangirai lamented police heavy-handedness in crushing the protest against the introduction of bond notes.
Meanwhile, PDP leader Tendai Biti has thrown his hat into the ring for the leadership of an envisaged coalition ahead of the 2018 elections, joining Tsvangirai and Mujuru, who have also been tipped for the same post.
PDP secretary-general, Gorden Moyo told NewsDay that Biti would be presented by his party as a possible choice.
“All serious political parties have presidential candidates. MDC-T, ZimPF have and we also have,” he said.
“We are not indicating left and turning right. When the parties sit to decide on a possible coalition candidate, PDP will present Biti for consideration. I guess others will present their own too.”
Mujuru and Tsvangirai lead the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), a loose coalition of opposition parties demanding changes to the country’s electoral laws, while Biti’s party plans to use the Coalition of Democrats (Code) card as its entry ticket.