Harare: Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joice Mujuru signed a memorandum of understanding on talks to form a coalition to challenge President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party in 2018 general elections in the southern African nation.
Tsvangirai leads the Movement for Democratic Change, while Mujuru, a former deputy to 93-year-old Mugabe, heads the National People’s Party. The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, in power since independence in 1980, has been accused of human rights abuses, electoral fraud and widespread corruption by groups such as New York-based Human Rights Watch.
“This is just the beginning of the building blocks towards establishing a broad alliance to confront ZANU-PF between now and the next election in 2018,” Tsvangirai told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Harare. The coalition will work to “remove this unmitigated repression and misgovernance that pervades” political life in Zimbabwe, he said.
The announcement marks the opposition’s boldest bid yet to sway voters with a united front at a time of deepening unrest because of widespread poverty, joblessness and the collapse of basic services. Within Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, a power struggle to succeed him pits a faction backing his wife Grace against another supporting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former spy chief.
“This alliance is a breakthrough because both are significant opposition parties and until recently the MDC didn’t really want an alliance with anyone,” Dirk Kotze, a political science professor at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, said Thursday by phone.