Biti’s PDP burns over MDC Alliance

HARARE – The much-talked about grand coalition of opposition parties which is seen as the only real chance of bringing to an end President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s uninterrupted rule in next year’s elections, continues to face challenges with fresh problems rocking Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) over the mooted electoral pact.

Biti, a former Finance minister in the inclusive government, is under pressure from senior officials to ditch the MDC Alliance which the PDP and six other fringe opposition parties announced on August 5.

PDP senior officials led by the party’s secretary-general, Gorden Moyo, have thrown the gauntlet at Biti by dismissing the MDC Alliance — announcing on Friday that their leader’s attendance was in solidarity with other opposition groups at the launch of the alliance at the Zimbabwe Grounds in August, not a confirmation that they had become part of it.

And the PDP was further thrown into disarray when Moyo addressed a press conference in Bulawayo alongside Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa and officials from former vice president Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party (NPP) after they had registered as voters, suggesting the fledgling party had formed its own alliance with the two leaders.

Biti yesterday was fuming and charged that Moyo had no authority to enter into coalition agreements on PDP’s behalf.

“I am the president of the party and no one except me has the authority to do that and if there are any rogue officials doing that, we will deal with them accordingly,” Biti said referring further questions to Jacob Mafume, the PDP spokesperson.

Mafume, on his part, slammed Moyo.

“That (PDP is not part to the MDC Alliance) is a piece of fiction. We are fully-committed to the to the MDC Alliance.

“The move (to join Mujuru alliance) was announced by the secretary-general who for some reason has chosen to become the poster child and face of disunity.

“We are fully behind the alliance and candidature of …Tsvangirai for the upcoming election. The alliance issues are done,” Mafume told the Daily News On Sunday.

Moyo’s mobile number was not reachable throughout yesterday.

But on Friday he said the PDP was finalising the terms of working with Dabengwa and Mujuru.

“So whether we are going to have a broader coalition at some point, it does not depend on us alone. It depends on everybody else as we are engaging everyone, social movements, women and churches,” said Moyo.

The MDC Alliance has caused ructions both in the MDC and the opposition movement due to sharp differences on how coalition partners are supposed to share constituencies in next year’s elections.

Apart from the quarrelling which analysts have said had the potential of derailing the launch of the grand coalition, Morgan Tsvangirai, who leads the MDC Alliance, has been taken ill at a time he was  holding a series of meetings with other principals to finalise the modalities of constituency sharing and government portfolios.

Since the launch of the MDC Alliance, Tsvangirai has also been at loggerheads with his deputy Thokozani Khupe and senior figures in the MDC Matabeleland provinces.

Khupe, MDC national chairperson Lovemore Moyo and the party’s organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe snubbed the launch of the alliance in Harare and Bulawayo, respectively.

For long, Khupe has been unhappy with being sidelined by Tsvangirai after the MDC leader handpicked Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri to deputise him, along with her.

With Tsvangirai going into bed with seven other leaders in the MDC Alliance, a bloated coalition with three vice presidents or deputy presidents could be in the offing as Tsvangirai tries to accommodate all the influential figures who are part of the pact.

This has led to fears that the MDC could be headed for another split owing to widening differences in its top echelons over the alliance pact.

Attempts to heal the rift between Tsvangirai and Khupe have so far failed to yield positive results and the MDC leader’s sudden illness has further complicated issues.

The pact includes Biti’s PDP; the MDC led by Welshman Ncube; Transform Zimbabwe, headed by Jacob Ngarivhume; Zanu Ndonga headed by Denford Masiyarira and the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats led by Mathias Guchutu.

Both Biti and Ncube are former secretaries-general of a united MDC.

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