Alliance the only option: Tsvangirai

HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says those fighting for change in Zimbabwe must not “betray the people’s wishes and a serious national expectation” by not committing to a grand alliance ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

Speaking during a live interview on South African television station ANN7 on Tuesday night, Tsvangirai said the “big tent” that he has been talking about for months now was not only the best option to end President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s misrule, but it was also the right vehicle to manage the power transition after the polls.

“We all see the strategic need for it (opposition coalition) and ... if we don’t succeed in having the change, we would have betrayed a lot of expectations of Zimbabweans ... but it takes everyone to play a part.

“We are very committed to ensuring that we do not betray the national sentiment about coming together and forging a coalition ... we are busy looking at everything,” he said.

Tsvangirai said assuming that the planned opposition alliance would fail, as the ruling Zanu PF wanted the world to believe, was presumptuous.

“How do you judge that (the MDC is not committed)? The MDC is very committed. In fact, you are far, far behind to say that the MDC is not committed because of a by-election (Bikita West).

“A by-election is a by-election, and it has nothing to do with the fundamental principles of alliance building. It’s not a litmus test because it has never been part of the coalition agenda,” he said.

“The agenda is about how we build an alliance pre-election and secondly, how we agree on the various policies that will confront us as an alliance. Thirdly, it’s about how we build an executive, post the election, into an effective coalition government.

“So, I think it’s presumptuous to say that the MDC is not committed. What litmus test is there?” the former prime minister in the government of national unity said.

“The big tent is the approach. If you look at all the political parties, their policies are not different. The differences are in personalities and some of these other things,” he added.

Tsvangirai said the younger generation needed to be active in choosing their leaders, instead of shunning election processes as had been the case over the years.

“The young generation has to register if they are to make a difference. I know we are also still to do battle on the Diaspora vote, which is essential in adding to the synergies that we are all talking about,” he said.

Responding to a question on when he would step aside to allow somebody else to lead the MDC, Tsvangirai said he could not subvert democracy within the party, adding that the timing was also not ripe for him to stand down.

“What is giving up power? In this case the president of the MDC is elected by a constituency across the country. We are also in a struggle and in a struggle sometimes it’s very difficult to change horses in the middle of that struggle.

“It’s not that we are not thinking about it, we are already putting in place the mechanism for this so that the party should not be identified with an individual.

“It has been the case (the status quo) not because of the choice of the leader, but because of the struggle and the confidence which people have in the leader,” Tsvangirai said.

“Let me just pose a question, would it have been fair for South African liberation struggle icon Oliver Tambo to leave in the midst of the struggle, to give up?

“Would it have been fair for Mandela to just give up (and leave the struggle) to others? It (what is happening) is allowing the struggle to maintain its momentum,” he added.

“What is also democracy? Democracy is the will of the people, and the will of the people in the MDC is that they want their president to continue,” he said further.

He also dismissed outright allegations that he had failed to win any election against Mugabe and Zanu PF, pointing to the 2008 polls when he beat both the nonagenarian and the troubled ruling party hands down in the respective presidential and parliamentary elections.

“When it comes to elections, were any of the elections (past elections) conducted in a free and fair manner? ... We won the 2008 election and did Mugabe accept that we had won the election? No.

“When you get people who say you have failed, where have I failed? The question is that let’s get proper, fair and credible elections conducted so that the people themselves are satisfied that this is the legitimate government we have elected,” Tsvangirai said.

On Nelson Chamisa’s elevation to one of the party’s deputy president positions, Tsvangirai dispelled the notion that the Kuwadzana East legislator’s appointment meant that he had been anointed.

“That’s far from true ... when the time comes, when we work out the question of who can take over to move the country and the party forward, it will be the people of Zimbabwe, the people of the MDC who will democratically elect their leader in the structures of the party,” he said.

Comments (4)

I am strong advocate for democracy, and any progressive agendas. I think political parties in Africa but especially in Zimbabwe, need to move away from trusting in personalities to placing faith in institutions. By this I mean, at this point, as much as he has does for the opposition, Tsvangirayi needs to step aside for new leadership. Because even if he were to win the next election, a whole generation of people will only have known him as the leader of the main opposition. Its absurd, isnt it the same as what has happened with ZANU-PF that who ever was there in the very beginning can and shld be a leader? It is very very naive of us as people to think that once in power he (Tsvangirayi) would only want to serve a one term. My seceond and last point is that a grand coalition is the ONLY and BEST way to unseat ZANU-PF. I dont care who you, are, as long as you are not in ZANU-pf you ought to be thinking about a coalition (cases in point: Gambia and now Kenya). We can fool ourselves thinking there will be change but not unless we coalesce around a single candidate. Egos have to be curtailed for the good of the people.

gudo - 12 January 2017

Personally I happen to find substance in Tsvangirayi's excuses. And yet the idea of leadership renewal is just tempting, and nearly overwhelmingly, really. Because, it may seem, the entire MDC mourned Susan for as long as did the "groot" leader. Not that it's a fact, only like it seems. Rather strangely, and clearly unmistakably, Zimbabwean politics has been personality centred: Ian D. Smith and the RF, R.G. Mugabe and ZANU (PF), Joshua Nkomo and ZAPU, as much as Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, Ndabaningi Sithole and ZANU as is Wlshman's MDC. Zimbabwean patterns. It looks more like, we the grassroots citizenry, on average still need to fully understand and capitalise on the democracy concept and practice in order to make political organs serve our interests. The democracy concept seems to be coming with simultaneously with literal education, HIV and road accidents, massive unemployment and township poverty, brain drain and underdevelopment and Foreign Direct Investment like capital flight. Rather like a modern culture as contrasted to cattle herding, early summer fieldwork to harvesting, hunting including fishing, free beer and some gathering. We are transforming, from a primitive culture into the modern machine/techno revolution-age, whatever. Politicians take advantage of this and exploit people as opposed to serving people. The people haven't the power (ability) to interrogate government programmes to their benefit. Yet they must! All while we transform, and when we are transformed, as much as now or in 1943, personalities in human culture are just indespansable: Winston Churchill and the Great War, Stalin, now Obamacare or Angela as Tsvangirai, if you like. Post Mugabe, which indeed is an era, change will continue to be government centered and largely foreign funded. We need change, at ground level

maombo david - 13 January 2017

This is all hogwash.We have no opposition in zim.Im beginning to believe Tete Viola, all these politicians are just for money ,nothing else.

munya - 13 January 2017

What Tsvangirai is saying is just the same as what mugabe is saying, 'democracy is people, if people still want you then you should stay. Mugabe still insists that the struggle continues'. So where do we stand with this issue of democracy?

nhemacena - 30 January 2017

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