New Zim­babwe coali­tion formed to take on Mu­gabe

The Star Late Edition - - POLITICS - The Zim­bab­wean

served as Mu­gabe’s sec­ond-in­com­mand in gov­ern­ment for 10 years un­til she was ex­pelled in 2014 from the rul­ing Zanu-PF fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of plot­ting to top­ple the 93-year-old pres­i­dent.

In re­cent weeks, her party, Zim­babwe Peo­ple First, has been deeply di­vided in the wake of her fall­out with some founder members. She has since re­named her new formation the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Party. An­a­lysts say these ruc­tions have eroded her pub­lic ap­peal as a vi­able opposition leader.

Be­fore this week’s grand coali­tion pact, Mu­juru’s big­gest hur­dle has been the cloud of mistrust that swirls around her. She joined Zanu-PF as a teen- ager and has known no other ide­ol­ogy.

Her crit­ics say that, as a for­mer high-rank­ing mem­ber of Zanu-PF, she is tainted by cor­rup­tion, mis­man­age­ment of pub­lic re­sources and a cul­ture of vi­o­lence.

By go­ing into coali­tion with Ts­van­gi­rai, who is re­spected in opposition cir­cles as a feisty cam­paigner against au­toc­racy, Mu­juru could some­what sani­tise her Zanu-PF his­tory while lev­er­ag­ing on her lib­er­a­tion track record.

Ts­van­gira, 65, a for­mer labour union leader who has spear­headed the strong­est opposition to Mu­gabe, was prime min­is­ter for 10 years in an un­easy coali­tion gov­ern- ment with strong­man.

Com­men­ta­tors say Ts­van­gi­rai’s big­gest hand­i­cap is his lack of lib­er­a­tion war cre­den­tials. The mil­i­tary chiefs, who wield tremen­dous power in Zim­babwe, not only view him with sus­pi­cion ow­ing to his per­ceived links with some West­ern gov­ern­ments, but also hold him in con­tempt be­cause he is not a war vet­eran.

The con­ven­tional think­ing is that by join­ing hands with Mu­juru, Ts­van­gi­rai, who says he has fi­nally won his bat­tle against colon cancer, could fi­nally strike a chord with the in­flu­en­tial se­curo­crats.

Ncube, 56, a pro­fes­sor of law, fell out with Ts­van­gi­rai in 2005, lead­ing to the split of the Move­ment for Demo­cratic Change (MDC) into two for­ma­tions. But in re­cent months the two opposition lead­ers have ex­pressed a will­ing­ness to re­unite be­fore next year’s elec­tion.

Known for his abil­ity to strate­gise, Ncube brings size­able clout to the grand coali­tion, draw­ing sup­port mostly from the pro-opposition Mata­bele­land prov­inces which have con­sis­tently voted against Mu­gabe since 1980.

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