Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter—
MDC-T has reportedly set stringent conditions to forge an alliance with the embattled Joice Mujuru-led Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) ahead of next year’s elections by barring the troubled nascent party from fielding candidates in constituencies won by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led party in 2008. MDC-T won one seat more than Zanu-PF in the 2008 harmonised polls which it intends to use as bargaining power, ignoring the 2013 polls in which the party was routed by Zanu-PF which scored more than two-thirds majority garnering 159 of the 210 National Assembly seats, while President Mugabe out-polled Mr Tsvangirai by 61.09 percent of the votes to 34.94.
In the wake of the embarrassing rout, MDC-T has shied away from all by-elections held since 2013 in a bid to hide declining electoral fortunes.
Given the pressure the out-of-sorts MDC-T is facing to forge a pre-election alliance with other opposition parties to boost its fortunes, insiders said MDC-T was more interested in forming a coalition with ZimPF and the Professor Welshman Ncube-led MDC.
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This comes amid reports that a faction in Dr Mujuru’s ZimPF says it will contest the Mwenezi East by-election and has since picked Mr Kudakwashe Bhasikiti as the party’s candidate, as fights escalate within the opposition formation made up mainly of politicians expelled from Zanu-PF.
Mr Tsvangirai has publicly stated that the touted coalition of opposition parties would have to field single candidates from local authority level to presidential elections. MDC-T secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora could neither confirm nor deny his party’s demands, but stated that his party would use its numerical advantage in contesting next year’s polls.
“The alliance discussions are still going on, so no conclusion has been made yet,” said Mr Mwonzora.
“That means nothing concrete has been finalised yet.
“But as MDC, we will look at our own relative strength and numerical advantage. However, that is not the only factor, we will also look at the strength of other parties, some of it known to us and some of it not known to us. Coalition partners will have to prove their strength to the MDC.” Insiders who spoke on condition of anonymity said fielding of candidates was the major talking point that the MDC-T would not compromise on.
“The condition in the party at the moment is that we use the 2008 parliamentary election results where the MDC-T had the majority in Parliament,” said a source.
“The position is that all those constituencies won by the party in 2008 will be reserved for MDC-T candidates because we consider those as our stronghold.
“This means that other coalition partners would have to make do with the remainder of the constituencies, which we already feel we cannot easily grab. This will work for Welshman (Ncube) because remember, he won about 10 seats in Matabeleland.”
The source said MDC-T was going to field the majority of candidates in the event that the touted coalition succeeded.
“If you remember, (MDC-T vice president) Thokozani Khupe said we do not need a coalition in Matabeleland, but in Mashonaland.,” said the source. “What she was saying is that ZimPF would have to field candidates in Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, parts of Mashonaland West and Midlands provinces that have always been under Zanu-PF.”
Efforts to get a comment from ZimPF spokesperson, Mr Jealousy Mawarire, were fruitless.
A faction of Dr Joice Mujuru’s ZimPF says it will contest the Mwenezi East by-election and has already picked Mr Kudakwashe Bhasikiti as the party’s candidate, as fights escalate within the opposition formation made up mainly of politicians expelled from the ruling Zanu-PF.
The seat fell vacant following the death of Zanu-PF Member of Parliament Cde Joshua Moyo in December last year. Dr Mujuru last week announced the expulsion of Messrs Didymus Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and four other senior officials.
This was after ZimPF fell to Zanu-PF last month in the Bikita West by-election deemed a litmus test for the political party. The expelled ZimPF members later claimed they had dismissed Dr Mujuru for lack of leadership qualities and nepotism.
Mr Bhasikiti said ZimPF chose him as its candidate for the Mwenezi East by-election, whose dates are yet to be proclaimed by President Mugabe. “For that reason, I will be lodging my nomination papers,” said Mr Bhasikiti, who is the former MP for the constituency. “When we formed the party, we agreed that we were doing it to contest in elections so that we can get power.
“Mujuru cannot claim ownership of the party because it belongs to the people who have elected me to represent them in Mwenezi East. Those are the legitimate owners of the party.”
Dr Mujuru’s faction described Mr Bhasikiti as a ‘’’mentally unstable man’’ running a marathon alone. The faction’s acting Masvingo provincial spokesperson Mr Jeffreyson Chitando said they would not participate in any forthcoming by-elections.
‘’’We held a provincial council meeting and endorsed the resolution of the national executive council that said no more participation in future by-elections by ZimPF for now and we stand guided by that decision made at a meeting chaired by our leader, Dr Mujuru,’’ he said.
Trouble started brewing in ZimPF after it dismally lost in its maiden election in Bikita West constituency where Zanu-PF candidate, Cde Beauty Chabaya polled 13 156 votes against ZimPF representative, Mr Kudakwashe Gopo, who only managed 2 453 votes.
Meanwhile, the Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial elections directorate has already received CVs from at least 11 candidates willing to represent the party in Mwenezi East.