MORGAN Tsvangirai is not the President of Zimbabwe because talks aimed at reunifying the two MDC factions collapsed in 2008 – just months before general elections, according to his party’s secretary general Tendai Biti.
Biti said the decision by the MDC-T – which won a larger share of the electoral vote compared to the splinter party now led by the party’s founding secretary general Welshman Ncube – to go it alone had aided President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
The talks collapsed over the distribution of parliamentary seats between the two parties.
Biti, who had advocated for the reunification of the parties, says he became so despondent after the failed talks that he would not want to be involved again.
Yet the Finance Minister, speaking in Manchester, England, on Friday insisted that he had no doubt Mugabe would lose against a coalition of determined Zimbabwean opposition leaders.
“For me personally, I did my best to see the reunification of the two MDCs and I was really shattered when our talks broke down on February 2, 2008,” Biti told New Zimbabwe.com.
“I think it was a disaster, and to prove that those of us who were preaching unity were vindicated, the presidential run-off election was caused by the 9 percent that we theoretically lost to Simba Makoni.”
Makoni, a former Zanu PF official and leader of the then newly-formed Mavambo-Kusile party, stood as an independent with the support of Ncube’s MDC.
Tsvangirai polled 1,195,562 votes (47.9 percent) to Mugabe’s 1,079,730 votes (43.2 percent) which fell shy of the 50.01 percent which would have secured him the presidency.
Makoni’s 8.3 percentage share of the vote meant there was no outright winner, triggering a run-off election between Mugabe and Tsvangirai in June 2008 which the MDC-T leader opted out of, citing the widespread intimidation and killing of his supporters.
Mugabe later agreed to share power with Tsvangirai and Ncube's MDC, then led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, after regional countries refused to recognise his lopsided run-off victory.
Biti admits the two MDC parties are unlikely to reunite, but he still hopes an electoral pact can still be possible to unseat the 88-year-old Mugabe who has been in power since 1980.
He said: “I pray that there will be maturity at the relevant time not for the reunification of the parties, I think that will never happen, but for some kind of electoral pact.
“I hope the leaders of all the democracy loving political parties in Zimbabwe – Simba Makoni, Dumiso Dabengwa, Welshman Ncube, Morgan Tsvangirai and others – will come together for some kind of pact.
“One thing I can assure you is that I hope not to be involved in the negotiations because the way they collapse is very painful, and I still have a hangover from the collapse of the 2008 talks.”