As Zimbabwe prepares for elections in 2013, leaders within both major formations of the Movement for Democratic Change have expressed at least tentative interest in a pact to help them defeat ZANU-PF and President Robert Mugabe.
Secretary General of the MDC-Tsvangirai formation, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, as well as MDC-Ncube formation member and Education Minister David Coltart, have said recently that a coalition or electoral pact between the factions is a worthy goal, though both acknowledge that reaching the goal would not be easy.
The two MDC formations split in 2005. Repeated attempts to re-unite them have failed. Would another attempt end any differently this time? Speaking in London early this month, Biti stated confidently that Mugabe would lose against a coalition of opponents. He said if the opposition parties had been united in 2008, Mugabe would already be history.
In 2008’s presidential poll, Tsvangirai received 47.9% of the vote to Mugabe’s 43.2% and Simba Makoni’s 8.3%. Because none of the candidates secured more than 50% of the vote, there was a runoff, which Mr. Tsvangirai abandoned citing violence and intimidation of his supporters by Zanu PF.
If Tsvangirai and Makoni had joined forces, some analysts have said, their combined votes would have defeated Mugabe in the first round.
While there is no guarantee that an electoral pact would succeed in defeating Mugabe next year, assuming such a pact could even be successfully negotiated, it would certainly improve the odds.
Coalitions and electoral pacts in Zambia, Kenya, Lesotho and other African countries have successfully united opposition groups, at least long enough to defeat incumbent leaders.
Mr. Coltart, who first publicly revived the issue, tells VOA’s Blessing Zulu that a pact would not be easy, but agrees it is worth pursuing.
The leader of the MDC-N himself, Welshman Ncube, agrees a pact is worth trying, but says he is not optimistic it can happen.
Meanwhile, reporter Violet Gonda reached out to the spokesmen of the two MDC formations in government, Nhlanhla Dube (Ncube) and Douglas Mwonzora (Tsvangirai).
Mr. Dube says an electoral pact is desirable in theory, but forming one in practice is full of challenges. Mr. Mwonzora stated that so far, no discussion of a pact has happened officially, but if MDC supporters want the formations to cooperate in the coming elections, this is what the formations should do.