Zimbabwe opposition takes bold step towards creating anti-Mugabe coalition

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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 the country’s 2018 general elections.

Tsvangirai leads the Movement for Democratic Change, while Mujuru, a former deputy to Mugabe, heads the National People’s Party. The ruling Zanu (PF), 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 on 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.