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Grand Coalition, Dabengwa speaks

by Divine Dube
26 Jan 2017 at 06:15hrs | Views
BULAWAYO - ZAPU President Dumiso Dabengwa says he is wary of being 'swallowed' again and as such his party is working flat out to ensure that it retains its 'originality' during talks for a possible alliance of political opposition parties ahead of the country's watershed elections earmarked for 2018.

Speaking during a dialogue symposium dubbed "Prospects and Challenges of Building a Grand Coalition of Opposition Political Parties Ahead of 2018 Elections" organised by the Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Dabengwa said the success of the much-talked about grand coalition of parties was hinged on support by the masses.

The former ZIPRA intelligence supremo said the only hurdle at the moment was that the so-called bigger political parties were non-committal and had not yet come on board to join an alliance which is already in place under the banner of the Coalition of Democrats, better known by the acronym CODE.

The parties under CODE 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, Zimbabweans United for Democracy and Dumiso's ZAPU.

Dabengwa said more "smaller" parties have already expressed interest to join CODE. The ZAPU leader said although they were committed to a coalition as a party, they were approaching the alliance with caution to avoid being swallowed for the second time.

ZAPU was literally swallowed by ZANU (PF) in 1987 when the late ZAPU founder president Joshua Nkomo brokered a deal with President Robert Mugabe following a bloodbath which saw approximately 20 000 ZAPU supporters and Ndebele speakers being butchered in a genocide believed to have been orchestrated by Mugabe in a bid to establish a one-party State  — which he is still ruling to date.

"We have been in it (coalitions) and we got swallowed at some point and came out and I don't think we would allow ourselves to be swallowed once again, "Dabengwa said curtly referring to the 1987 pact between his party and ZANU PF which led the assimilation of ZAPU.

"Any coalition which does not violate our identity is (very much) welcome," he added.

In 2013 a coalition of opposition parties flopped ahead of general elections which ZANU won overwhelmingly largely because opposition parties could not agree on basic fundamentals of an alliance which included nominating a single presidential candidate to challenge Mugabe.  

If ZAPU joins any coalition ahead of 2018 elections, the party would be expected to garner votes mainly from Matabeleland provinces, including Bulawayo where it still has a support base.