HARARE – MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai has trashed chances of former Cabinet minister Nkosana Moyo — who last week announced that he will contest President Robert Mugabe in next year’s elections — saying he lacks the support needed to mount a strong challenge and win the polls.
Addressing the media in the capital yesterday after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Jacob Ngarivhume, leader of little known Transform Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai also announced that the long-mooted grand coalition would be concluded at the end of the month.
“One of the things that you have to understand is that and I have asked a lot of my colleagues in the opposition movement, when you form a party, you must ask yourself, where am I going to get the people, because at the end of the day it is the people who decide whether you are a successful politician or not.
“In this case, there is just one question you have to ask my colleague Nkosana, do you know where Mbire is? Well Mbire may be in the rural areas, but do you know where Tafara is?
“If he can answer that question, then I think we are on the same wave length,” Tsvangirai told journalists.
The veteran former trade union leader spoke as his party has promised Moyo that “we will meet in the political market” in one of the clearest indications that the MDC does not intend to work with the former Industry and International Trade minister and wants to meet him in the presidential ring, come 2018.
Moyo’s declaration that he will contest Mugabe in 2018 under the auspices of the Alliance for the People’s Agenda, has already set tongues wagging in the opposition movement with senior MDC officials such as the party’s deputy treasurer, Charlton Hwende, reacting emotionally to his presidential bid.
“A lot of the people now claiming to have solutions to bring change in Zimbabwe disappeared when the dictator’s brutality was at its peak. They went out of the country to make money whilst … Tsvangirai remained fighting for a better life for all.
“Now because of Mugabe’s advanced age and the improved political environment in the country, they are now back armed with properties in and outside the country and cash to hoodwink Zimbabweans to ditch Tsvangirai.
“Some even wish death to Tsvangirai but they must know that it is the toiling masses that put Tsvangirai at the helm of the democratic struggle and they will make sure he wins in 2018. That position is non negotiable, it’s born out of a covenant with the masses,” Hwende wrote on his Facebook wall.
Apart from anger, MDC supporters also say Moyo’s participation in the make-or-break elections, was likely to tilt the scale in favour of Mugabe like what happened in 2008 when Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba Makoni participated as an independent candidate.
Makoni, a former Finance minister in Mugabe’s government, received 8,3 percent of the vote and was accused of causing a presidential run off as Tsvangirai won the first round of the election but failed to gain enough votes to defeat the Zanu PF leader, outright.
Tsvangirai yesterday gave his strongest hint that he would not countenance any other person to lead the grand coalition when he penned the MoU with Ngarivhume.
“ . . . no party is bigger or smaller, nzizi dzinozara nemadiriro (a river is bigger because of streams that flow into it). Any little tributary will ultimately constitute Save, which is a bigger river,” Tsvangirai said wittingly.
His totem is Save.
“As MDC, we recognise that good leadership entails among other things the ability to assist in the creation of new leaders and not recycle already recycled and failed ones as part of the process of building a vibrant multi-party democracy in our country for today and for posterity. We need to infuse new blood and new thinking in our body politic.
“Today, as part of this process, we have signed another MoU with a young but vibrant party —Transform Zimbabwe. A party, which has its roots in our religious and civic community. A party formed and led by young people. A party that has worked well with others in the democratic movement, seeking an even electoral playing field.
“Old wine in new bottles just won’t cut it, because it will be a continuation of the status quo. We need vibrancy and a leadership focused on the current and future challenges that our country and in particular our young people are facing and will face. An agenda anchored on the past as represented by Zanu PF and its neo-acolytes or should I say Zanulites, won’t cut it,” Tsvangirai said.
The former prime minister in the inclusive government repeated his stance on the selection of coalition partners and appeared again to take a dig at the likes of Moyo.
“In the last few months we have answered the call by the people of Zimbabwe for opposition unity. In this regard, in December 2016 our National Council met and defined a path that the party would follow in achieving the coalescing of opposition forces.
“This path departs from the current narrative in coalition building, which is being informed, by positions rather than a transformative agenda that responds to the needs of the people. We say no to a coalition built on the basis of a boardroom elite consensus, devoid of and divorced from the voices of Zimbabweans in whatever form expressed and implied,” said Tsvangirai.
“This path involves the careful selection of our would-be partners, so that we are not infiltrated by our opponents but coalesce only with those who genuinely share our transformative agenda.
“ . . . all coalitions discussions should end by end of this month and that the party should now engage in organisational work which is preparing for elections, continue with networking, building networks…,” he added.
A large cross section of Zimbabweans, drawn from the church, civic and student movements, have said the mooted grand coalition would provide the opposition with the best chance of defeating Mugabe and his divided Zanu PF next year.
Tsvangirai has now signed MoUs with former vice president Joice Mujuru, Welshman Ncube — once his secretary-general — and now Ngarivhume, as part of finalising talks to form the electoral alliance.
However, there are no clear indications on who will lead the coalition as both Mujuru and Tsvangirai have publicly made statements that do not support each other’s bid.