Zimbabwe’s main opposition political parties, the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T and the National People’s Party led by President Robert Mugabe’s former deputy, Joice Mujuru, on Wednesday signed a coalition memorandum of understanding to join forces in the expected 2018 watershed elections.
Tsvangirai, a former Prime Minister in the inclusive government between 2008 and 2013, said the MoU was the beginning of “building blocks towards establishing a broad alliance to confront” the ruling party, Zanu PF, in next year’s elections.
“I am pleased to inform the nation that today [Wednesday], we have signed a memorandum of understanding with Dr Joice Mujuru of the National People’s Party to establish a pre-election alliance en route to the establishment of a coalition government,” he said.
“We shall drive a comprehensive democratisation and transformation agenda.”
Tsvangirai said similar arrangements would be entered into with other opposition political formations.
He accused President Robert Mugabe of “skirting the critical issues affecting the people” when the 93-year-old leader addressed over 60,000 Zimbabweans at the 64,000-seater giant National Sports Stadium to mark the 37th Independence commemorations.
Mujuru said despite taking long to make the arrangement possible, it brought rays of hope to the electorate and general population.
“This is something that we have been discussing since last year,” she said.
“We have taken more than six months to say the least of consulting, discussing, making ourselves understand as to what expectations our people have or should be given from the two of us and I’m happy to say today is the day.”
The two did not reveal the contents of the pre-election coalition MoU, but Mujuru said she would lead the political committee, Tsvangirai the diplomatic committee, while People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti would be on the legal committee.
Tsvangirai said there would be substantive negotiations later, as the MoU was “just an outline of our commitment” to working together.
Present at the signing ceremony were MDC-T vice-president Nelson Chamisa, deputy chairperson Morgen Komichi, spokesperson Obert Gutu among others.
Mujuru was accompanied by Dzikamai Mavhaire and Ambassador John Mvundura.
Zimbabwe marked 37 years of independence on Tueasday, where Mugabe — Zanu PF’s preferred candidate in next year’s elections — chose to dwell his speech on agricultural “progress”, saying the sector would grow by 12 percent.
He also praised the manufacturing sector, which he said capacity utilisation had grown from 34.4 percent to 47.4 percent.
In his speech, the Zimbabwean leader did not address the biting cash crunch the country is reeling under, nor even how the government would act to breathe life into the comatose economy.