Five opposition parties formed a coalition on Tuesday that will challenge President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party in the 2018 general elections.
The parties are Mavambo Kusile Dawn led by Simba Makoni, Professor Welshman Ncube’s Movement for Democratic Change formation, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe led by Elton Mangoma, Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment and Zimbabweans United for Democracy.
Tendai Biti's People’s Democratic Party and Zapu led by former Zipra supremo Dumiso Dabengwa say they still need to consult their members before joining the coalition. The parties say other opposition groups like Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T and former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First are also keen to join the coalition.
Zunde leader, Gilbert Dzikiti, who was appointed the first chairman of the coalition called the Coalition of Democrats or CODE, said the coming together of the five political parties was an important milestone in the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.
Ncube noted that the parties that signed the agreement are keeping their doors open for other political parties to join the coalition.
These sentiments were echoed by MKD leader Simba Makoni, who contested as an independent presidential candidate in 2008.
Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who now leads the People’s Democratic Party and attended the signing ceremony, said his political formation would join the coalition once he gets the nod from his party’s executive committee.
Zapu spokesperson, Mjobiza Noko, said his party was waiting for direction from its congress set for October this year.
Tsvangirai's MDC-T says it was not invited for the signing ceremony. However, the main opposition party’s spokesperson, Obert Gutu, said the MDC-T was willing to work with all pro-democracy parties and groups in a grand coalition that would challenge Zanu PF’s rule come 2018.
Rugare Gumbo, interim spokesperson of the newly formed Zimbabwe People First party led by former vice president Joice Mujuru, told Studio 7 by phone that his party was also not consulted regarding the formation of the coalition.
Mangoma said the leaders of the parties in the coalition are expected to meet in the run up to the 2018 national elections to select their presidential candidate.
Sources close to the coalition negotiations said the five parties rushed to announce the formation of the coalition so that they would have negotiating power when it comes to fielding candidates.