The Sunday Mail
Kuda Bwititi and Lincoln Towindo
The much-touted launch of an opposition “coalition” yesterday degenerated into a farce after top MDC-T officials snubbed the event to protest Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s “dictatorship”.
A paltry crowd witnessed the event in Highfield, Harare where seven political party leaders signed a pact under the banner of the MDC Alliance.
The grouping has Transform Zimbabwe, Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Zimbabwe People First, the Multi-Racial Christian Democratic Party, People’s Democratic Party, MDC-T and Zanu Ndonga.
Though Mr Tsvangirai immediately assumed leadership, it emerged yesterday that all was not well in MDC-T amid indications he signed the pact without the blessings of his lieutenants.
His deputy, Ms Thokozane Khupe, and other top officials did not attend the event following an earlier confrontation with Mr Tsvangirai over the alliance.
Mr Tsvangirai’s second deputy, Mr Nelson Chamisa, left midway through the ceremony where MDC-T supporters jeered Mr Biti for being a “traitor”.
The Sunday Mail understands Ms Khupe confronted her principal last Friday, accusing him of dictatorship.
This was after Mr Tsvangirai had secretly agreed with other “coalition” members on the distribution of council and parliamentary constituencies they will contest in come 2018.;
Sources said Mr Tsvangirai, under pressure from Western financiers and diplomats to form the alliance, could not face his anti-coalition lieutenants.
A document which The Sunday Mail has seen shows a constituency distribution plan with MDC-T fielding candidates in most urban areas.
The majority of rural constituencies have been reserved for the remaining six parties.
MDC-T will contest in 114 constituencies; MDC 32; ZimPF 20; MCD 1; PDP 14; and Transform Zimbabwe 19.
Impeccable sources told this paper, “Today’s (yesterday’s) signing ceremony was almost called off because there were serious disagreements in the top MDC-T leadership. The absence of Ms Khupe was not by coincidence.
“She has already clearly expressed her reservations to Tsvangirai, telling him that she was unhappy that the structures had not been consulted.
“She and other leaders like Lovemore Moyo (national chairman) and Abednico Bhebhe (organising secretary) complained that Tsvangirai had handpicked (Mr Jameson) Timba and (Mr Morgan) Komichi to negotiate the allocation of the seats while other party structures were in the dark regarding what was going on.”
Trouble is also brewing in Mr Biti’s camp.
PDP Bulawayo spokesperson Mr Fortune Mlalazi said, “Our official position as the PDP is that we are not yet part of the coalition at this stage. We will only enter into a coalition where we are treated as equals, and not a process where there are bullies who see themselves as the only opposition.
“The presence of our leader at the signing ceremony was just for solidarity’s sake. Our position as party has always been that there should be no negotiation on constituencies that belonged to us when our members were expelled from Parliament. We will only negotiate after we have been granted these seats.”
At the signing ceremony, Mr Tsvangirai fired a salvo at fellow MDC-T leaders against the alliance.
“I would like to thank our negotiators. There were some among us in the MDC who were against the coalition. They would call me, asking why we had conceded some seats to other parties. I told them point blank that that is what it was, and at the end of the day, don’t be sad.
“They must know that seats belongs to the people of Zimbabwe; not individuals. Why are you refusing to see the objective that we have?”
The event was also marred by minor skirmishes among visibly intoxicated youths.
One group engaged in physical combat over a piece of cake that had been left at the high table.
MDC-T security personnel harassed journalists as some supporters urged them to expel a ZBC TV news crew.