As the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections get closer, virtually all of the country’s opposition parties are signalling that they are ready to be part of the mooted grand coalition which analysts say could be key in booting President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF out of power.
All the opposition parties that spoke to the Daily News said they were “more than willing” to enter into such a coalition, after Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader Joice Mujuru dared them to work together to end Mugabe and Zanu PF’s three-and-a-half decades in power.
Mujuru made her call on Saturday when she addressed her first public rally at Stanley Square in Bulawayo that was attended by thousands of her exuberant supporters.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said it had “long realised the importance of a viable coalition” to challenge Mugabe and Zanu PF in the 2018 general elections.
This view was buttressed by the leader of the smaller MDC faction, Welshman Ncube, who said unseating Mugabe and Zanu PF would remain a “tall order as long as opposition parties are not united”.
Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also said it fully backed all plans that offered possibilities for political change, including the mooted grand coalition.
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said the new positive response to calls for an opposition coalition boded well for the 2018 elections.
“Our position as a party has been very clear. We are willing to join with other opposition parties to democratise Zimbabwe. As the MDC we are on board and perfectly willing and able to join other political parties.
“But as to the exact way we will be forming a coalition with other parties, our president Morgan Tsvangirai will be making a statement regarding that at the appropriate time. To us, the enemy is not other opposition parties, it is Zanu PF,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
PDP spokesperson, Jacob Mafume said his party had consistently called for a grand coalition “to deal with Mugabe’s moribund regime”.
“That Mugabe should go is now common cause even in Zanu itself as the man wants to either outlive his potential successors, and if they do not die, chase them away from his party.
“The question is how to chase Mugabe out of office and the only way is through a grand coalition.
“Opposition parties must set aside their differences and try to create a coalition government to remove Mugabe from power.
“We therefore welcome the talk wholeheartedly and we commit our resources to make it a reality so that we can assist the people of Zimbabwe,” Mafume said.
The spokesperson of the smaller faction of the MDC, Kurauone Chihwayi, said it was good that opposition parties were “currently singing the same tune regarding a lasting solution for Zimbabwe”.
“However, time is ticking away and some parties appear to have learnt nothing from history. The MDC is ready to work with all the political parties which are genuinely opposed to Mugabe and Zanu PF,” he said.
Senior project leader for the Southern Africa desk at the Justice and Reconciliation in Africa Programme, Webster Zambara, noted that Zimbabwe’s opposition politicians had previously been their own worst enemies by not working together.
“The other big challenge has been the issue of personal egos in opposition politics such that there was no coalescing around coherent issues and perhaps that is one issue that will now be atoned for with the entrance of Joice Mujuru’s People First,” the conflict resolution expert said.
Speaking when he celebrated his 92nd birthday this year, Mugabe — who has been nominated by Zanu PF as the party’s 2018 presidential candidate — scoffed at the idea of a grand opposition coalition, adding that it would not threaten him and his party in any way.
“If you put zero plus zero plus zero plus zero, grand zeros, what do they amount to? You are afraid of them?” Mugabe asked rhetorically