The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: 'Partners' Dump Tsvangirai

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai cut a lone figure yesterday as his erstwhile allies threw their weight behind the Constitutional Court judgment that harmonised elections be held by July 31, while the new partners he appeared with at a Press conference on Wednesday poured water on the event, dismissing it as nothing more than a photo opportunity.

Mr Tsvangirai's former allies, among them the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ZCTU Concerned Affiliates, NCA and MDC-99, yesterday threw their weight behind the Constitutional Court judgment while Zapu, Zanu Ndonga, MDC and Mavambo all said the nation should not read much into Wednesday's Press conference where Mr Tsvangirai sought to rope in non-GPA parties into purported GPA matters.

ZCTU Concerned Affiliates secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe said the Constitutional Court ruling should be respected.

"If this issue went to court and the judges sitting in their wisdom arrived at that ruling, that must be respected," he said.

"The earlier we have elections the better."

Mr Majongwe said timely elections would help stabilise the economy.

"We want one Government to be in charge. If it is Zanu-PF, let be and if it is MDC then let be," he said.

"The reason why civil servants are suffering is because of the discord in the inclusive Government. The earlier we have elections, the better," he said.

Said MDC99 leader Mr Job Sikhala: "We are ready for elections yesterday, today and tomorrow."

Mr Sikhala said Mr Tsvangirai should stop playing mind games with the people claiming he does not know election dates.

"There is no dispute at all as to when elections should be held in our country. The people of Zimbabwe should not be cheated by some of these politicians who have been drinking tea together every Monday for the past four years that there is a dispute as to when elections should be held.

"There is no disagreement at all among themselves as they have been collectively conniving against the people of Zimbabwe. These people are one. President Mugabe and Tsvangirai should just give us election dates on their Monday meetings.

"They must stop playing games with our minds when we know that they have been drinking tea together and even donated wives to each other (in reference to Mr Tsvangirai's marriage to Elizabeth Gama (nee Macheka) the daughter of Zanu-PF Central Committee member Cde Joseph Macheka)."

National Constitutional Assembly chairman and University of Zimbabwe constitutional law expert, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, also laid into Mr Tsvangirai for criticising the Constitutional Court ruling.

"These people (Mr Tsvangirai and his party) are just ignorant of the law. They can destroy anything that stands in the way of their political ambition. If it is the Supreme Court they will throw it away. If it's ruling without Parliament they can do that.

"This is a very dangerous attitude for the country. They must know that constitutionalism is to have a good Constitution in place which you must follow. Decisions relating to legal disputes are resolved by the courts and courts alone," Prof Madhuku said.

He said the order by the Constitutional Court took away from the agenda of the special Sadc summit on poll funding expected soon anything to do with the election dates.

"They (Sadc summit) can only discuss about other things but not the proclamation of dates while principals can only discuss about the actual dates.

"At the end of the day under the current circumstances, it is better for Zimbabwe to have a bad election than having no elections at all," he said.

To compound Mr Tsvangirai's woes, political parties he appeared with at a Press conference convened on Wednesday as a show of "popular" resistance to the drive towards elections by July 31, yesterday poured cold water on the meeting saying they had no plans of forming the so-called grand coalition ahead of elections.

The MDC-T, recently dumped by its traditional allies among them the ZCTU, the NCA and PTUZ, met the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube, Dumiso Dabengwa's Zapu, Zanu-Ndonga and Mavambo/Kusile Dawn on Wednesday in Harare to present a united front against the Constitutional Court judgement ahead of the special Sadc summit that was scheduled for the weekend but which has since been postponed to an as yet unknown date.

Observers said Mr Tsvangirai was desperate to strike political alliances ahead of the polls as his handlers told him on his own he stands no chance against the Zanu-PF juggernaut.

In an article titled "How Morgan Tsvangirai can beat Robert Mugabe" the British paper, The Guardian on Tuesday said the MDC-T leader needed to form a grand coalition of the opposition.

"The main opposition party (MDC-T) continues to be adamant that it will win on its own. Tsvangirai's party seems oblivious to a mountain of complex of problems it faces; a dwindling support base, unequal level playing field, circumscribed regional and international support, a surge in Zanu-PF popularity and also a crowded opposition space with reportedly 28 eight candidates vying for the presidency. MDC-T needs to be realistic and understand that joining a coalition is crucial.

"It is crucial that the MDC-T doesn't try to go it along. The opposition has failed in the previous elections despite odds being slightly better than today. In fact, no single political party has successfully challenged Zanu-PF's stranglehold on Zimbabwean politics since independence," the paper said.

However Mr Tsvangirai's attempts at a grand coalition hit a snag yesterday after his new found allies distanced themselves from such plans.

In separate interviews, the parties said the nation must not read much into Wednesday's meeting as it only centred on the ruling by the Constitutional Court which directed President Mugabe to proclaim election dates not later than July 31.

"We share the same view with the MDC-T, Mavambo, Zanu-Ndonga and Zapu on conditions that should prevail in Zimbabwe before elections are held but that is not a coalition. It is an issue based agreement.

There is nothing spectacular about this whole thing. We are standing alone as a political party in the elections," said MDC deputy president Mr Edwin Mushoriwa.

He said the parties were coming with one position ahead of the Sadc summit.

Zapu echoed the same sentiments with its alternate secretary general Mr Strike Mkandla saying Wednesday's meeting must not be mistaken for creation of a coalition by the parties that attended it.

"The issue is not about an alliance. The meeting was issue specific and it has nothing to do with forming an alliance. The parties are coming together on a specific issue," said Mr Mkandla.

Zanu-Ndonga chairman Mr Reketayi Semwayo said his party was not getting into a coalition with anyone.

"We have our political parties but we have agreed on a particular issue. We are worried about the implementation of the election roadmap and are not getting into an election coalition with anyone. As I speak I am Zanu-Ndonga's aspiring candidate for Chipinge Central," he said.

While siding with the MDC-T on the so-called reforms, Mr Semwayo underscored the need to respect and abide by the Supreme Court ruling.

"We must observe the rule of law and respect the judiciary. I am against holding elections after the deadline set by the Constitutional Court. All the reforms must be implemented before the July 31 deadline," he said.

Mr Semwayo denied allegations that the MDC-T was financially inducing some smaller political parties to side with it especially against the ruling by the Supreme Court.

"My party does not have money. Some political parties are doing their primary elections, we are at home because we do not have money," he said.

Dr Simba Makoni could not be drawn to comment only saying talk to me tomorrow.

Twenty-eight parties are active in Zimbabwe and have expressed interest in contesting the harmonised elections making Mr Tsvangirai's five-party charade on Wednesday a damp squib.

Zimbabwe Development Party leader Kisinoti Mukwazhe yesterday said his party wanted elections held within the timeframe set by the Constitutional Court.

"We are not against the Constitutional Court ruling. The President must uphold the ruling. Our only concern is that we want minimum conditions for the holding of free and fair elections," he said.

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