Kenya PM pushes for MDCs pact

HARARE - Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is reportedly pushing fractious MDC formations to form a united front against President Robert Mugabe in elections scheduled for June this year, the Daily News can reveal.

Highly-placed insiders from the two formations yesterday told the Daily News that representatives from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and those from Industry minister Welshman Ncube’s formation recently met in Kenya where preliminary discussions to form a grand coalition were mooted.

A coalition between Tsvangirai and Ncube, once united under the MDC, would create a realistic chance for the two formations to end Mugabe’s 33-year-old rule.

Divisions between the MDC formations have been a blessing for Zanu PF and in 2008, Tsvangirai trounced Mugabe in presidential elections but the former trade union leader failed to garner enough votes to boot out the octogenarian leader.

Tsvangirai polled 1 195 562 votes (47,87percent), Mugabe got 1 079 730 (43,34 percent) while Ncube’s MDC sided with former Zanu PF politburo member Simba Makoni, who got 207 470 (8,31 percent) of the vote.

Analysts say a united MDC would have ended Zanu PF rule but talks of an alliance before the March 2008 polls fell through the cracks.

The party split in 2005.

Although on the outside, Ncube accuses Tsvangirai of siding with Mugabe and blocking his ascendancy to be a deputy prime minister, insiders say talks are in the offing.

Tsvangirai has in the past called Ncube, who enjoys regional support in Midlands and Matabeleland provinces, a village politician while Ncube has hit back describing his former comrade as a bedroom politician.

Officials in Ncube’s MDC said talks of a unity pact between the two parties are on course as a result of the nudging by Odinga, a close ally of Tsvangirai.

Ncube, sources say, is well aware of his parochial influence and favours a coalition albeit where he dictates terms “and not begs for power.”

Sources say the former MDC secretary-general “feels he has nothing to lose but everything to give” because of the sway he claims to hold in Matabeleland region.

Moses Mzila Ndlovu from the Ncube faction reportedly led a delegation to the Nairobi talks last week.

Nhlanhla Dube, spokesperson of the Ncube faction could neither confirm nor deny that talks were underway.

“Our leaders always travel together when we are invited by our African brothers. We engage with them on several issues including government matters,” said Dube, was all he could say.

Sources close to the talks say that Ncube was also under pressure from his party’s heavyweights like Education minister David Coltart, who is an ardent advocate for a united front against Mugabe.

Top officials in Ncube’s MDC from Mashonaland regions also favour a coalition with Tsvangirai as they have a better chance of getting leadership roles.

Tsvangirai enjoys support in Mashonaland provinces especially in Harare, home to over two million potential voters.

Tendai Biti has also been one of Tsvangirai’s top officials who are said to favour a coalition with Ncube who publicly “does not want to be seen vacillating like Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara” who wavers between Zanu PF and the MDC.

In the past, Ncube has ruled out a coalition to unseat Mugabe with his former president saying Tsvangirai could turn into a dictator if he ever gets into power.

“Ncube wants to be seen as a decisive leader who does not change his principles, that is why he was against the coalition. But for the good of the nation, he knows it is the best move,” said the source.

Tsvangirai and Ncube split in 2005, ostensibly over the party’s participation in the senatorial elections.
However, Tsvangirai in his autobiography, “At the Deep End” claims the split was engineered by Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president.

According to Tsvangirai, Mbeki wanted the MDC to self-destruct and leave Zanu PF to rule without strong opposition.

Tsvangirai’s MDC could not comment. - Fungi Kwaramba and Mugove Tafirenyika

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