Grand anti-Mugabe coalition talks on

OPPOSITION political parties are meeting informally to come up with a grand coalition to challenge President Robert Mugabe, 92, and his Zanu PF party in the 2018 elections, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, said on Monday.

We are talking to all the political parties informally ... Jacob Mafume

We are talking to all the political parties informally … Jacob Mafume

Speaking in a wide ranging interview with the African News Agency in Harare, Mafume said a coalition in Zimbabwe was no longer optional, but a must if the country’s political and economic situation was to be turned around.

“We are talking to all the political parties informally. What we are grappling with now is the creation of a formal negotiating platform that will be announced publicly through the agreed channels, but there are informal talks, there are movements towards an agreement and no party is excluded,” Mafume said.

He said all the opposition political parties should coalesce with labour, religious, civic and women’s organisations. Mafume, who also called for a pact with traditional leaders, said such a move was necessary to unseat Mugabe.

The nongenarian has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since independence from Britain in 1980.

Mafume said political parties are concerned should be able to be open with each other and say their opinions and come up with a way forward that will help alleviate the suffering of the people.

Not about individuals

Asked about MDC-T president, Morgan Tsvangirai, whom former colleague and now PDP leader Tendai Biti had in the past said he would never work with again, Mafume said: “It’s not about an individual, it is about coalescing”.

Mafume added: “One can never say never. Previously Ian Smith said never in a thousand years will a black man rule Zimbabwe.

“Mugabe once said never will he sit with an MDC government, but they ended up having a government. So in political language, we do not use the word never like that”.

He said PDP had certain opinions about what positions people would hold in a coalition, in line with democracy.

“People ventilate those positions, people argue who should lead the coalition, who will be the best candidate and people will have different opinions, but at the end of the day, we need to come up with a formula to come up with a decision in terms of candidature right up to the presidency where it matters the most,” said Mafume.

On the issue of the war veterans, who recently met with their patron, Mugabe, Mafume said he was disappointed that the former freedom fighters had wasted an opportunity to ask the President to step down.

Missed opportunity

“They missed an opportunity to tell Mugabe that they have loved Mugabe but it is time to step down. All other revolutionary parties have done that.,” Mafume said.

“Chama Chama Pinduzi was able to do that with Mwalimu Nyerere, Frelimo was able to do that with Joachim Chissano, ANC was able to do that with Nelson Mandela, and now currently NPLA has been able to do that with Dos Santos.”

He said the war veterans’ demands were not justified despite the fact that they at some point genuinely suffered for the country, saying they did not act like the fish in the water that they used to call themselves.

“They indeed spoke about their personal issues but what they must know is that the fish first takes care of the water for the water to be able to take care of the fish.

“The people of Zimbabwe cannot afford the demands that they are asking for. You cannot expect people who are not getting their salaries to be able to pay allowances for the war veterans.

Independence from hunger

“So next time they must remember when they meet in their thousands, they are not speaking to Mugabe but to the nation and therefore they must speak about the suffering of the water that they are in and if they get that formula correctly, they will be part of the solution to Zimbabwe’s crisis.”

On the forthcoming Independence Day, Mafume said: “People of Zimbabwe want to be independent so that they can have jobs, so that they can eat food, they want to be independent from hunger, they want to be independent from poverty, from oppression, from high rentals, high water rates, high electricity bills”.

Mafume said the independence had caused Zimbabweans more desperation, forcing many to flee to other countries.

“They are now leaving their own country in droves running away from a country that many people died to liberate so that they can tie themselves to other people’s economies,” he said.

“You cannot create an independence that chases people away. You cannot create an independence that is parasitic, that is like a mosquito, which kills the host that it is feeding on. It is not the paradise we wanted as the people Zimbabwe.”

Mafume said his party had not been invited to the State function to be held at the National Sports Stadium on April 18.


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