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Tsvangirai, Mujuru send shivers down Mugabe's spine

by Staff reporter
15 Aug 2016 at 13:03hrs | Views

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joice Mujuru sent fresh shivers down the spines of President Robert Mugabe and other panicking Zanu-PF bigwigs yesterday when they publicly flaunted their readiness to join forces against the ruling party ahead of Zimbabwe's eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

In a move that political analysts described as "very significant", Mujuru - now leader of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) - held hands and also joined Tsvangirai during another massive demonstration in Gweru that was organised by the former prime minister in the government of national unity's MDC.

"This public show of solidarity was very significant. You know, perception is especially powerful in politics both in terms of symbolism and numbers, and this Gweru tango between the two leaders ticked all the right boxes. If I were in Zanu-PF I would be very worried," analyst Shepherd Mntungwa told the Daily News on Sunday.

And in a reciprocal development that was also variously described as "historic", Mujuru - who was hounded out Zanu-PF in December 2014 on untested allegations of plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe - was later joined by the MDC top brass at her own rally in the same city.

Thousands of MDC and ZPF supporters, as well as passers-by in the Midlands capital, cheered and treated both opposition heavyweights like they were rock stars.

"Today is a historic day to us. It is the day the MDC and ZPF are coming together to fight for our space. We want the people of Zimbabwe to work as one and not be divided. Today we found a way of working together to deal with the issues that are affecting us.

"The MDC and ZPF are like puppies of the same litter but which take different days to start seeing. The MDC was the first to see Mugabe's problems, so you cannot accuse me of having failed to realise them when the MDC did," Mujuru told the ecstatic gathered crowds.

Describing yesterday's scenes as ‘heart warming' Tsvangirai - who recently announced that he was suffering from cancer of the colon - showered praises on Mujuru for joining the MDC in its protest.

"Did anyone ever dream of Mujuru becoming a part of the opposition? I want to congratulate her together with the ZPF leadership for seeing it necessary for us to have this joint programme. It's not by accident that the MDC and ZPF are here together.

"I know that there will be a lot of talk, especially from Mugabe because he is afraid of the people, and by the end of the day he will even be afraid of leading Zimbabwe. We in the MDC respect Mujuru for the contribution she has made to this country. Mujuru is not the enemy," Tsvangirai said.

Analysts say a united opposition fighting with one purpose can finally bring to an end Mugabe's long rule, especially at a time that the increasingly frail nonagenarian is fighting to keep his warring Zanu-PF united.

Mugabe was recently dumped by war veterans who have since announced that they will not be campaigning for him in 2018 because he is allegedly a ‘hard sell'.

The war veterans have been one of Mugabe's strongest pillars and have waged brutal campaigns against the MDC over the past 17 years to keep Zanu-PF and its leader in power.

A few weeks ago, Tsvangirai also reiterated his willingness to work with Mujuru and ZPF, saying the enemies of the people who needed to be booted out of power were Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday then, he warmly welcomed Mujuru to "the side of the people", adding that the formal entrance into politics of ZPF would serve as an additional arsenal to long-suffering Zimbabweans in their quest to dislodge Mugabe and Zanu-PF from power.

The battle-hardened MDC leader and former prime minister in the government of national unity said the "sad reality and incontrovertible truth" was that Mugabe and Zanu-PF were the "singular negative catalyst" behind Zimbabwe's political and economic crises of the past 36 years.

In that light, he added, all the people and organisations who believed in a democratic and better Zimbabwe, and who were prepared to put their "bodies and souls on the line in the fight against the Zanu-PF kleptocracy" were for the people and therefore allies "in the struggle".

"For me, they (Mujuru and ZPF) are definitely not the enemy. They appeal to a certain constituency and are part of the opposition now. They are certainly not the problem.

"The problem is, and has always been Zanu-PF. So, in terms of accepting … their role and space in the struggle, there is no issue there. I see nothing wrong with them," Tsvangirai said.

The MDC president spoke then after Mujuru had officially launched her party in Harare, where she also openly expressed her willingness to work with other opposition parties in the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe.

Picking up on the partnership theme, which has sent Zanu-PF into panic mode ahead of the 2018 elections, Tsvangirai said it was clear that the MDC shared many beliefs with ZPF on critical issues such as democracy and respect for property rights.

However, the indefatigable former trade unionist cautioned that there was a significant hurdle that opposition parties, Mujuru's ZPF included, had to deal with - even if they worked together and won elections - and this related to how to transfer power.

"There are many State institutions that continue to be abused to thwart the people's will. Whether it's Morgan Tsvangirai or Amai Mujuru, or anybody else, we have to force conditions, conditions that will allow for the mandate of the people to be observed.

"The fact is that Mugabe has always sustained his power through military means and pillars. And this is not likely to stop anytime soon. On the other hand, we know and have never said that the military is an enemy of the people. We have always said people must be professional and that they must respect the Constitution.

"If the Constitution were to be observed in both letter and spirit, I can tell you that Zanu-PF will not last one more day in power. If we were able to beat them in 2008 as we did, in 2018 they will be chicken feed," a confident Tsvangirai said.

In an earlier interview with the Daily News on Sunday's sister paper, the Daily News, Mujuru also spoke about the country's uneven political playing field, but suggested that she had the capacity to reach out to the critical security sector that is led by her liberation struggle comrades.

Analysts also say Mujuru, whose liberation struggle nom de guerre was Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood), and whose husband Solomon was the first black post-independence army commander, could provide the much-needed bridge that opposition parties have been missing to ensure the smooth transfer of power if they win elections again.

However, they warn that without a broad coalition involving all the major opposition players, Zanu-PF would use "its usual thuggish and foul methods" to retain power in 2018.

In 2008, her late husband - Rex, the revered liberation struggle icon and Zimbabwe's first black military commander, was accused by Mugabe and other Zanu-PF bigwigs of having engineered the 92-year-old's stunning electoral defeat to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in that poll.

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Source - dailynews