Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai has effectively dumped Zimbabwe People First leader Dr Joice Mujuru who wanted him to join her for a rally ahead of the Bikita West constituency by-election where her party candidate Mr Kudakwashe Gopo is contesting.
The by-election marks the maiden electoral contest for Dr Mujuru’s formation.
The Herald earlier this week revealed there was fighting within MDC-T over whether or not Mr Tsvangirai should join Dr Mujuru at the rally as it emerged that some officials wanted her party to lose the by-election to weaken her bargaining power during coalition negotiations.
Mr Tsvangirai confirmed this position when he appeared on South African television station, ANN7 on Tuesday evening where he indicated that supporting ZimPF during the by-election was not on the agenda.
“A by-election is a by-election, it has nothing to do with the fundamental principles of alliance building,” said Mr Tsvangirai.
“It has never been part of the agenda. The question of going and contesting by-elections has never been part of the agenda. The agenda is how do we build an alliance pre-election and a coalition post-election?
“Secondly, how do we agree on the various policies that will confront us as an alliance? Thirdly, how do you build an executive, post-election, into an effective coalition Government, in other words executive structure?”
ZimPF spokesperson Mr Jealousy Mawarire was at pains trying to justify Mr Tsvangirai’s position as he admitted that supporting their party during by-elections was never part of the negotiations.
“Yes, he is being factual, it was never part of the negotiations,” Mr Mawarire said yesterday.
“He was speaking in the context that you want to imply that he should attend the rally because of the coalition.
“We have extended invitations to everyone. In fact we don’t discuss coalition issues in the Press, especially when State media are used as conduits of relaying information to Zanu-PF. That is precisely why we won’t give you information on the coalition.”
It is understood opposition parties wanted a coalition to challenge Zanu-PF and President Mugabe at next year’s elections.
Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba said Mr Tsvangirai had clearly contextualised his idea of a coalition with other parties, which left Dr Mujuru and her party as juniors.
“His conceptualisation of the whole negotiation process pans the whole gamut, namely from pre-election alliance, which is a strategy for gaining power right through harmonisation of policies up to a power-sharing coalition in the unlikely event of winning the elections,” said Mr Charamba.
“Considering that by his own admission, policies are not a problem, it means what really is an issue is power-sharing in the event that they win, which is very unlikely,” he said.
“This is why Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T would want a weakened Joice Mujuru in the negotiation, then she will be playing junior in the executive,” said Mr Tsvangirai.
MDC-T insiders who spoke to The Herald said Dr Mujuru was desperate to have Mr Tsvangirai join her at the rally in the hope of earning her party candidate MDC-T votes that could upstage the Zanu-PF candidate, Cde Beauty Chabaya.
They said Dr Mujuru hoped to use the election results, in the event of a win, as a bargaining chip to be the coalition presidential candidate at next year’s polls.
On the other hand, MDC-T is adamant that in the event of a coalition, Mr Tsvangirai should be the presidential candidate since “he has been in the trenches” for too long.
They argue that Dr Mujuru has not yet proved her mantle, as such, would want her to go it alone in Bikita West constituency so that they can have a clearer picture of her popularity or lack of it.