Tsvangirai, Biti in tricky talks

HARARE - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is engaged in tricky discussions with People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti as they seek to find common ground and lay the foundation for the formation of a coalition to confront Zanu PF at the forthcoming polls, the Daily News can report.

Tsvangirai, who suffered a humiliating loss to President Robert Mugabe at the 2013 polls, is desperate to win over other opposition leaders on his side to enhance his chances of giving the ageing Zanu PF leader a good run for his money.

He has given himself up to July 31 to consummate the coalition.

But with the clock ticking towards the deadline, Tsvangirai is frantically trying to close ranks with his erstwhile opposition leaders, including Biti.

He has since met his former secretary-general to discuss the possibility of joining forces ahead of the 2018 polls and have since assigned their respective negotiators to draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would be signed in due course.

The meeting, held before Tsvangirai’s trip to South Africa for his routine medical check-up on Sunday, was separate from their usual engagements under the auspices of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) — formed in 2015 to nudge Mugabe into levelling the electoral playing field, currently skewed in favour of his governing party.

As parties to Nera, Biti and Tsvangirai meet once almost every week.

Tsvangirai chairs Nera’s diplomatic committee, while Biti heads its legal committee.

The spokesperson for the MDC leader, Luke Tamborinyoka, declined to comment yesterday, saying he could only do so at the right time.

He said: “I cannot comment on such issues in the media because we will not negotiate through the media. When the time comes we will inform you”.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu was, however, more forthcoming.

“Yes, I am aware of those engagements that are taking place now,” said Gutu.

Already, Tsvangirai has signed three MoUs with National People’s Party leader, Joice Mujuru; the smaller MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube and with Transform Zimbabwe, led by Jacob Ngarivhume.

Despite signing the MoUs, the signatories have struggled to go beyond symbolism since an MoU is not an agreement, but indicative of a process that is to come.

The coalition talks have been going on endlessly, without any results, amid indications that the negotiators are finding it difficult to narrow their differences.

Concern has previously been raised over Tsvangirai’s perceived big brother attitude, as well as his tendency to enter into agreements without consulting the other partners.

In 2005, Ncube was part of a group that split from Tsvangirai, citing his autocratic tendencies.

And in 2014, Biti also broke ranks with the MDC leader, saying Tsvangirai was not as democratic as he purports to be.

Even as they attempt to mend the rift, many still believe Tsvangirai’s attitude towards Biti and others might scupper the negotiations.

“Although we are arguably the largest and most popular political party in Zimbabwe, we don’t look at ourselves as a big brother. Our common enemy is the faction-infested and crumbling Zanu PF regime,” said Gutu.

PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume confirmed to the Daily News that talks between the former allies have been on-going.

“Yes, we are engaged in talks with the MDC on two fronts. First, we have formal engagements at the Nera and also behind the scenes we are having bilateral engagements with the MDC towards coming with an MoU with them. The talks have not yet been completed but we hope to seal a deal soon,” said Mafume.

“We are not worried about who should lead the coalition. If you want to have a bus you don’t first employ a driver no; our point is that let us form a coalition and from there, everyone is allowed to jostle for a position . . . As the opposition, we are creating a platform for forming a grand coalition. The principals are aware of this and they have given the people the green-light to engage, a coalition is not optional, it is a must,” he added.

Talks between Biti and Tsvangirai comes as opposition parties have been stuttering principally on who should lead the proposed grand coalition that analysts say has the potential to defeat the ruling party, Zanu PF, come next year.

Political experts said there is need for opposition parties to humble themselves and put aside personal differences, cautioning that MoUs alone were not enough.

Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist, is doubtful if the coalition would ever materialise.

He said: “I am sceptical on the basis that the coalition talks have been going on endlessly without any results. Many are questioning whether the big tent will take off and whether it is going to fly and if it flies how high. It’s a process-driven initiative. I doubt that those two leaders (Biti and Tsvangirai) will bury their differences and those may rear their ugly heads again. Symbolically, it is a good development, but we should go for pragmatic agreements,” said Masunungure.

A former advisor to Tsvangirai when he was prime minister during the government of national unity era, Alex Magaisa, opined that time is now running out for the opposition parties, adding that it was critical to bring together parallel initiatives such as Nera and the Coalition for Democrats (Code).

“The coalition is fundamental if the opposition wants to raise its chances of success. But the different parties have to find and exercise humility. Arrogance fuelled by huge egos will scupper any chances of a coalition. By now, Code and Nera should be one alliance but the division is symptomatic of the splits within the opposition spaces,” said Magaisa.

Comments (9)

I think if Ncube,Biti &Tsvangirai boad the same ship,something is beginning to show for the opposition,there is need for Tsvangirai to move away fr pride & over assumbtions,itz only the people who have the mandate to guide the way thru either scientific or descent means-whether they would like to put Mujuru,Biti or Mangoma on top of the coalition is upto them, Tsvangirai is a mere individual has no right dictate to the people but only to take whatz there,no one is larger but only the people thru members of the floor,if they want to put Tsvangirai is ok,they live with the consequences

addmore gudo - 13 July 2017

Gudo you are ignorant what you do not know is these guys were just friends to morgan and their pull out if they consulted it was not going to be allowed by the masses of all mdc supporters instead were suppose to solve their differences and move forward with no split of what ever......it was people like you Gudo who does not have common sense to just hate morgan for no reason and influence the babalic splits to mdc formations their Natural leader morgan is working with instructions to engage these old MDC Member and fight the common enemy together ZUNU PF MISRULE That has dispersed family zim to all over the globe from chaina to green and iceland all over the globe.That common ground is bring them together. Gudo you want to fool people to think welshmen and Tenda they are seeking positions no no ....morgan will see who can occupy what post in the new gvt....who is an expert in what not by corruption and nepotism but by merit inrder to save zimbabwe and move forward as a nation .....all those former leaders of mdc they are aware of their streight and they will share power amongst themselves morgan being the Leader its you Gudo with your shallow mind who influance and cause divisions and splits becz of money loving and shallow minded see how people are batling for life, no money ,no jobs ,prostitutions,.no madication is the clinics and hospitals

dofo - 13 July 2017

plz dofo, note Tsvangirai is not MDC,but those who formed MDC in 1999 are. He is probably only MDC-T.He is only somebody who has tried or whoz trying to steal their own sweat bec they made him the first front man,& they strove to campaign for the party using his name-that achievement had nothing to do with Tsvangirai's abilities at all,but the campaigners themselves.It remains true that membership of MDC at its formation are true the owners-Tsvangirai only somebody who is trying to run away with their job's proceeds-shld slow down & listen to them

addmore gudo - 13 July 2017

If these guys have no new strategy to facing Mugabe in the coming elections by now I can conclude they are out.All what it looks like is oppositions are battling it out among themselves for postions in a government which they think is going to fall from heaven that people have had enough of hell from Mugabe. By so doing they are showing exactly the same characteristics of Mugabe`s government which people are fed-up with. Had Nkosana Moyo started early enough with his sermon I would guarantee you all that he would easily cruise to victory. All what he needs is for his word to reach the four corners of Zimbabwe and after that he is unstoppable,no matter what. His supporters are invisible to Zanu-PF so none of them cannot be threatened to vote Mugabe. His plan is very clear and different. The people are put in the driver seat: Ye-e-eeh Bob wabatiswapasi. You cannot in anyway beat him. It was not a character assasination when Dr NM said of Mugabe:" there is no difference between Ian Smith and Mugabe." Its the truth.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 13 July 2017

Tsvangirai has huge egos, its not a hidden fact. I don't think that he is different from Mugabe. Tsvangirai lacks foresight, he is clueless

nhemacena - 14 July 2017

God have mercy on our Zimbabwe. If people cannot rally behind only one Mogiza who commands huge following then regerai Gushungo vatonge becoz vana Gudo murikurota. Wake up !!!

Garamuzive Mutinini - 18 July 2017

we dont rally behind numbers thats why tiri pama1 ndipo panotanga dictatorship but a man who we see can lead e country hillary had numbers but still lost to trump as for me i think Nkosana Moyo is e best candidate with clear vison for zim i am tired of MDC & Zanu pf

kerevini - 18 July 2017

even when tsvangirai is in theatre undergoing cancer treatment zanu pf knows chikara

chatunga - 20 July 2017

Zimbabweans leaders must put their differences aside and build their country, so that their people must go back to their country. South African has suffered it is enough. The whole burden is carried by our youth , they are unemployed because first preferences is given to the foreigners due to their skills. Our children don't have skills. This has created animosity, anger, aggressiveness, desperation and hatred towards foreigners. It is a reality not xenophobia. The government cant provide for the whole Africa, whether they like it or not. All facilities are overstreched. Please Zimbabwe leaders stop being greedy and work together for the sake of your people. The sooner the better, otherwise the time bomb of unemployment and hunger among our youth is ticking. If it explode no one will stop it.

Mary More - 26 June 2018

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