BY STAFF REPORTERS
The two wings of the MDC have agreed to form an alliance to fight the upcoming general elections in a bid to unseat President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu (PF) party.
The Zimbabwean understands that the unity deal between Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara was hammered out in Pretoria on Saturday.
The two parties have agreed that Tsvangirai will contest the presidential election as the sole MDC candidate while a “safe parliamentary seat” has been reserved for Mutambara.
The unity pact was reportedly facilitated by leading academic, Professor Brian Raftopolous, a programme manager with policy think-tank, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation based in South Africa.
The unity pact was finally sealed by the Standing Committees of both MDC factions on Saturday. While senior officials in both MDCs confirmed the unity deal this week, they are keeping the details private.
“We have united to put an end to the uncontrolled and irresponsible rule of the current regime,” said one of the leaders of the new alliance.
Under the pact, sitting MPs cannot be challenged by candidates from the rival MDC. However, every candidate will have to be confirmed through primary elections, set to be held before the Nomination Court sits on February 8.
The two MDCs will address joint rallies, starting with the election campaign launch at Ascot Stadium in Gweru this Saturday.
The breakthrough comes more than two years after the MDC splintered over the issue of participation in elections for the Senate. Following this initial split, the two were polarised by differences in policy and strategy.
Some senior officials in the Tsvangirai group in Bulawayo feel betrayed by the unity pact and will have to be persuaded to embrace it in the national interest. They say the Mutambara faction has realised its electoral weakness, plans to use the unity to get elected and will then dump Tsvangirai afterwards.
A final decision on whether to participate or boycott the elections is yet to be announced.
But a senior MDC official who attended the meeting in SA said, “There is a position we can never compromise on, and it is that we will not contest an election without a new constitution and electoral reforms. However, as part of our political strategy, we shall continue pushing for this through various means and Mbeki says he is not giving up on his efforts to pressure Mugabe and Zanu (PF).Â Therefore we shall register for the elections and move countrywide telling the electorate our clear position.Â An announcement will be made on the eve of elections depending on what will be prevailing regarding our demands.”
* Tsvangirai sole presidential candidateÂ *Safe seat for Mutambara