Tsvangirai, Mujuru disagree over positions
A PROPOSED opposition coalition between Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC-T party and Zimbabwe People First’s Dr Joice Mujuru appears doomed amid bickering over who should lead the united camp.
A marriage of convenience between the long-time opposition leader, Mr Tsvangirai, and the former Vice President Mujuru appeared on course when the two joined forces at a rally in Gweru last August.
It is understood that a provisional framework for a consociational thrust between the two parties has been put in place ahead of harmonised elections in 2018.
These past weeks, though, have seen discord from both camps as they tussle for leadership of the proposed coalition leading to harsh exchanges of words among supporters and officials.
The latest turn of events has seen Dr Mujuru, in an interview published this week, undermining and casting doubt on Mr Tsvangirai’s credibility as a leader and insinuating that he does not command local support.
She said that Mr Tsvangirai was more respected abroad than at home, where he lacked the liberation credentials and respect.
Dr Mujuru told the Africa Report in an interview: “As People First, we respect Tsvangirai. He helped us because our fear and our respect [for President Mugabe] really damaged us. We could not be bold the way Tsvangirai was, but I respect him for that. We know the strengths and weaknesses of each party. Tsvangirai’s strength resonates with you outsiders, not with Zimbabweans,” she said.
Mr Tsvangirai’s party has often been accused of being a western project and a puppet to institute regime change on behalf of foreign interests.
Dr Mujuru said her outfit is home-grown and has a buy-in from war veterans.
“The war veterans understand what was missing in Tsvangirai’s outfit. [… We are] now mapping out which areas and what we can start working on together,” she said.
Recently, an “elder” at People First, Mr Dzikamai Mavhaire reportedly called the MDC-T leader an “idiot” who would not lead ahead of Dr Mujuru, a statement his party attempted to smother with a purported rebuttal.
However, tension between the two sides, especially on the grassroots and among supporters, is rising amid disagreements over who would lead a united front.
Independent politician Mr Temba Mliswa has also waded in the debate, siding with Mr Tsvangirai.
He told a daily newspaper this week that, “If Tsvangirai decides to accommodate Mai Mujuru, then so be it, but that man is not only popular and genuine, he is also a natural leader and a father figure. The people of Zimbabwe like him and we can’t take that away from him.”
He blamed People First for lack of organisation and principles, witness the sidelining of its founding figures like former State Security minister Mr Didymus Mutasa and former Zanu-PF spokesperson Mr Rugare Gumbo.
Spokesperson of the MDC-T Mr Obert Gutu was worried about the escalating bickering.
“The MDC is a social democratic political party that passionately abhors the use of hate language in both private and public political communication,” he told our Harare Bureau.
“As a party, we have a very firm conviction not to insult fellow comrades in the democratic struggle against Zanu-PF dictatorship. As such, we will not waste our precious time commenting on people who allegedly insult our leader or indeed, any of our party cadres. We are not petty. We have got bigger fish to fry.”
He explained: “We will coalesce on values and policies. We are not obsessed with political power as an end in itself, we believe in ushering in a new refreshing, progressive and democratic dispensation in Zimbabwe. To us in the MDC, values and ethos are paramount and permanent while positions are temporary; they come and go.”
Mr Jealousy Mawarire, the ZimPF spokesman, claimed the two parties had “a good working relationship”.
However, he said since the envisaged coalition had not yet materialised, parties were free to canvass for support for their leaders and appeared to justify why his side was rooting for the leadership of Dr Mujuru.
“You must understand that coalition negotiations do not stop individual party programmes. Independent parties will have rallies where they will naturally go and sell their leader and they have a right to do so,” said Mr Mawarire.