MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai may have helped President Robert Mugabe stay in power after ditching, at the eleventh hour, an opposition deal to fight the 2008 polls as a united front, MDC leader Welshman Ncube has claimed.
Once beaten twice shy, Ncube ruled out the prospect of another unity pact with Tsvangirai ahead of next year’s general elections, insisting the MDC-T leader could not be trusted to keep his word.
“In the run up to 2008 elections almost 18 months before the elections we deployed our best cadres meetings in South Africa, meetings in Botswana meetings everywhere with the MDC-T trying to build a coalition,” Ncube told NewZimbabwe.com at his party’s Bulawayo offices over weekend.
“We even had the presidents of the two parties (in our case) Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai holding meetings culminating in our signing of an agreement at Pandhari Lodge (in Harare) that we were going to fight the election as one.
“(But) two to one week before the seating of the nomination court, our colleagues within the MDC-T rejected an agreement which had been negotiated by their president their secretary general and others; they simply said No!”
Ncube’s claims were however, dismissed as inaccurate by MDC-T spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora, who insisted that there was never a deal for the opposition to contest the poll as a united front.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 received his biggest scare in 2008 when he lost the first round of the Presidential ballot to Tsvangirai. The Zanu PF leader won 43.2% of the vote against 47.9% for Tsvangirai. Simba Makoni, who was backed by the Ncube’s MDC formation, secured 8.3% of the vote.
Tsvangirai later pulled out of the run-off, accusing Mugabe of brutalising his supporters leaving the Zanu PF leader to claim a second round win with 85.5% of the vote.
The regional SADC grouping then intervened to help facilitate a unity government after the hotly disputed poll, resulting in Mugabe retaining the Presidency while Tsvangirai became Prime Minister.
Fresh polls to replace the coalition administration are now scheduled for March next year, but Ncube insisted that his party would go it alone.
“Ideally no one can contest the need for those ‘democratic forces’ working for the re-democratisation to come together and be able to work together against the institutionalisation of Zanu PF rule as we have known it over the last two years there is no contest on that,” he said.
“(But) we were betrayed before. We are not going to set up ourselves for betrayal which is why we are not taking the initiative to anyone. We have had a very bad experience of being abandoned.
“This time we are saying we are planning for one scenario and working for one scenario fighting an election on our own. We building our party to be as strong as possible it is not our primary strategy (united front).”
Mwonzora however, said they would not be going down on their knees to beg Ncube for an electoral alliance.
“If Welshman Ncube wants to go it alone he can proceed. We are not begging him to unite with us,” he said.
“(Still) we welcome any unity of purpose to remove Mugabe and we urge all the opposition parties to put the interest of the people first rather than their narrow and parochial interest.”
Ncube and several other senior figures left the MDC to form a separate part in 2005 after a bitter dispute with Tsvangirai over participation in the Senate elections of that year as well as differences over policy and the general direction of the party.
The acrimonious split has however, been credited with helping divide the opposition vote and handing Zanu PF an advantage in parts of the country where it does not have a strong following.