Coalitions on shaky ground

simba-makoni-mavamboTHE coalitions separately stitched together by leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations are standing on shaky ground, raising questions as to whether they would garner the intended votes in the forthcoming polls.
Prime Minister (PM) Morgan Tsvangirai entered into a coalition with Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader Simba Makoni and ZANU-Ndonga chairperson Reketayi Semwayo while Welshman Ncube hammered out a pact with Dumiso Dabengwa of ZAPU dubbed the coalition for devolution. The coalitions were struck this month.
But with only days left before the crucial poll on July 31, both coalitions are in limbo.The PM/Makoni pact is being opposed by some members of the MDC-T Manicaland provincial executive who boycotted a rally on Monday at Vengere Stadium in Rusape meant to introduce the MKD leader as the party’s preferred candidate in Makoni Central who would face ZANU-PF’s Patrick Chinamasa.
There were dissenting voices with the MDC-T’s initial candidate Patrick Sagandira declining to withdraw his candidature in favour of Makoni while Semwayo has been disowned by his party, exposing his pact as an individual deal.
Ncube and Dabengwa also submitted their papers to the Nomination Court and there are no signs that either of them would withdraw his candidature to pave way for the other before the voting day.
Sources this week also told The Financial Gazette that due to deep-rooted mistrusts of the MDC-T, Ncube’s party had proposed that it could only be part of the deal if Makoni, the man whom they also backed during the 2008 general polls ahead of Tsvangirai was going to lead such a coalition.
Makoni is said to have been in favour of allowing the premier to lead all the other groups.
And at Monday’s Rusape rally, the MKD leader said he was still hopeful that Ncube and Dabengwa would join them even at this late hour.
Time seems not to be on the side of the coalitions though.
Addressing the rally, Makoni said he grew up in ZANU-PF but left after discovering that the party was corrupt and not sensitive to people’s needs.
The former ZANU-PF Politburo member urged people who are under 40 years to go and vote as they were crucial in changing the status quo, adding that his pact with the MDC-T was not about personal or party interests, but rather the national interest.
“We are not fighting for your seat, or to free your family. This is about this country,” said Makoni.
Addressing the same gathering, Tsvangirai said he was alive to the fact that some among his party’s members where opposed to standing down for Makoni to run in Makoni Central ahead of Sagandira.
He, however, said there must be unity of purpose among those opposed to ZANU-PF as the last election showed that working at odds was not a good strategy.
Tsvangirai said in Chikanga/Dangamvura he had told prominent lawyer Arnold Tsunga, who is popular with the grassroots that the MDC-T would deploy him elsewhere and had to pave way for Giles Mutsekwa but the former declined to step aside.
The PM said the forthcoming election was more to do with achieving change and the issue of Parliamentary seats played second fiddle as real transfer of power was needed. He expressed confidence that ZANU-PF would be defeated saying even though they would win by 60 percent, there was no harm in having a coalition that would increase the threshold.
“We have had MPs for the last 10 years but we have not had change. One day you will thank me,” Tsvangirai said.
On Tuesday, Rashweat Mukundu, an analyst, said the MDC formations’ coalitions were rushed and were not handled carefully.
“The challenge is that the coalitions were rushed and to some extent represent an elite pact at the top without grassroots consent. What we are seeing is a reflection of that lack of coordination between leaders and middle ranking and junior party leaders,” said Mukundu.
“While coalitions are good they need careful handling and a strategy that has buy-in from party structures. More clearly each side must be clear on what the other side is bringing. As things stand, Ncube and Dabengwa may still fail to agree on who will represent the coalition leading to the unravelling of the coalition.”
Another analyst, Rejoice Ngwenya, said the coalitions lacked integrity adding that on the Makoni factor, the PM did not communicate well with his team and has displayed lack of decisiveness he showed on the primary elections issue on Tsunga and Mutsekwa as well Grace Kwinjeh who later withdrew saying the process was tainted.
Alois Matongo, the MDC-T secretary for finance and economic affairs for Gweru Urban District, said he tried in vain to lobby the premier’s party to adopt a system of primary elections that would have reduced the unhealthy stampede for Parliamentary seats while at the same time improving on the quality and accountability of the candidates.
“Here is a brief outline of the system: The entirety of the party membership of every branch would sit to select their best candidate for each of the public offices available. At the ward level, the entirety of the ward membership would select the best candidates from those forwarded by the wards and the process would be replicated at the district and provincial structures until candidates with grounding in the grassroots of the party are selected,” said Matongo.
“In the true spirit of devolution of power no one would come from higher structures to ‘supervise’ the processes in the lower structures. When I realised that our party was not going to buy this system I immediately  decided to keep out of the unhealthy stampede that I knew was going to ensue. We need some creativity and a love for excellence in some of the party’s key officers.”

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