George Maponga in GUTU
The National People’s Party (NPP) led by Dr Joice Mujuru yesterday threw spanners into the envisaged coalition of opposition parties ahead of the harmonised elections next year by declaring its either she leads or there is no deal.
The party said MDC-T president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who is widely touted as the natural leader of the proposed pact, could not do so because he is a “spent force”.
NPP vice president Mr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said while addressing a poorly attended rally here to formerly launch NPP in Masvingo province that only Dr Mujuru was qualified to lead the proposed coalition.
He declared: “We cannot afford to go backwards with a person who has failed’, while referring to Mr Tsvangirai.
Mr Nkomo’s utterances come barely a few weeks after Mr Tsvangirai summoned Dr Mujuru and MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube to sign a memoranda of understanding at his Harare house to form the coalition.
The move by Dr Mujuru’s party is likely to wreck plans for the grand coalition, with other opposition parties, mainly the MDC-T, angling for Mr Tsvangirai to lead the coalition.
Speaking at the rally at Maungwa Business Centre, Mr Nkomo said his party was prepared to go it alone if Mr Tsvangirai refused to step aside for Dr Mujuru.
“I want to speak about the issue of the coalition talks before I sit down because I know that my president (Dr Mujuru) will tone down in a bid to be diplomatic,” he said.
“We as NPP, we are saying that a coalition does not mean Tsvangirai will become our presidential candidate. He has been in opposition politics since 17 years ago and if a person has failed he has failed.
“If a person fails you try next door and in this case Tsvangirai failed, and if he does not want a coalition he should let go because we are going to have Dr Mujuru as our presidential candidate.
“If they (MDC-T) do not accept it, its their problem because we cannot afford to go backwards with a person who has failed.’’
Mr Nkomo said NPP had the capacity to contest and win next year’s elections on its own if coalition talks failed, claiming that people were tired of Zanu-PF.
In her address after Mr Nkomo’s speech, Dr Mujuru said the MoU that her party signed with Mr Tsvangirai recently was not a final agreement, but a road-map to be followed to seal a coalition deal.
“NPP will remain NPP and MDC-T will remain MDC-T,” she said. “What we only agreed on in the MoU was the road-map to be followed and nothing else. As NPP, we must continue building the party by recruiting more members.’’
Dr Mujuru threatened those that were not actively supporting her party to fight Zanu-PF, saying they would not get posts in her government if she happened to win next year’s harmonised elections.
Former Zanu-PF Politburo member Mr Dzikamai Mavhaire, who was fired from Zanu-PF together with Dr Mujuru, also took a dig at Mr Tsvangirai, saying the MDC-T leader lacked liberation war credentials.
“Tsvangirai does not have liberation war credentials and does not have the support of ex-liberation war fighters, but we (NPP) we can match Zanu-PF because we have war veterans in our ranks, unlike the MDC-T,’’ he said.
Mr Mavhaire took a swipe at some senior officials in Zanu-PF whom he accused of chickening out after initially being the brains behind ZimPF, which later split, leading to the formation of NPP.
Former MDC-T Gutu Central Member of Parliament and NPP Masvingo provincial chairman Mr Oliver Chirume also attacked Mr Tsvangirai, describing him as a coward who failed to take power from Zanu-PF in several attempts.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu said in an interview that his party still expected “good things to happen” despite the stance taken by the NPP.
“As we have always said, issues to do with the coalition are being handled by the president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and we do not negotiate in public or at rallies,” he said.