MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC counterpart, Welshman Ncube yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) ahead of next year’s elections, a development that ends a 12-year acrimonious relationship that followed the split of the original MDC in 2005.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
In an unprecedented show, both Tsvangirai and Ncube apologised to Zimbabweans for causing the infamous split of 2005, which is believed to have contributed to the opposition parties’ successive election defeats by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Addressing journalists after the signing ceremony, the two opposition leaders took responsibility for Mugabe’s successive victories in 2008 and 2013, saying had they remained together, Zanu PF would have long been thrown into the political dustbin.
“Today, we continue the journey that we started yesterday (Wednesday) with (National People’s Party [NPP] leader) Joice Mujuru; a journey, whose destination is a democratic, free and prosperous Zimbabwe under a caring government,” Tsvangirai said.
“It would also be equally dishonest not to recognise that in our journey with Ncube, we both made our own mistakes. We split our party in 2005.
“The cost of that vote-splitting, in addition to the blatant manipulation of (election) results, delayed change for the people of Zimbabwe in 2008. It takes humble leadership to accept one’s mistakes, but it takes bold leadership to correct those mistakes.”
Yesterday’s signing ceremony came a day after Tsvangirai made a similar pact with former Vice-President Mujuru, who now heads NPP.
“It is in this respect that I am both relieved and pleased to have signed an MoU with Ncube, as a first step towards undoing the damage we caused ourselves,” Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai and Ncube were among the founders of the MDC in 1999 along with other opposition politicians such as the late Gibson Sibanda and People’s Democratic Party leader, Tendai Biti, before the party was hit by two splits in 2005 and 2013.
“Today, Ncube and I will open a new chapter and craft a political agreement that should see us harness and combine our known electoral strengths to face our common opponent as a united front,” the former Prime Minister said.
Tsvangirai vowed that next year, Zanu PF would be confronted by a combined force of opposition parties, who “are sick and tired of Mugabe’s failed leadership”.
“If anyone in this country expects us to contest the next elections separately, as we did in 2008 and 2013 and expect a different result, it will not only be a third moment of real madness, but the highest form of insanity and none of us is insane,” he said.
The MDC-T leader evoked the name of one of Zimbabwe’s founding nationalists, the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, as he illustrated how Mugabe and his regime had failed the country.
“However, to embark on this transformation agenda, we need to extricate ourselves from the shackles of the corrosive dictatorship and economic mismanagement gripping our nation State,” Tsvangirai said.
“Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo, in his memoirs, while exiled in England, wrote something very profound: ‘The hardest lesson of my life has come to me late. It is that a nation can win freedom without its people being free.’ His words still ring true today as they did then.
“As Zimbabweans, we are still not free, but none but ourselves can free ourselves, and to do so we need to work together.”
Ncube, in his remarks, said he took responsibility for the 2005 split, describing the decision by both himself and Tsvangirai as not in the nation’s interest.
“The decisions that we made were clearly not in the national interest in particular in relation to splitting of the MDC that the president (Tsvangirai) referred to,” he said.
“We accept that we divided our people and the vibrancy of the party, which we should not have done.
“I do take responsibility for those mistakes, but what is more important, as it stands, is for us to not just accept those mistakes, but begin to take steps that are necessary for us to be accountable to the people of Zimbabwe.”
Ncube said Zimbabweans were eager for a coalition and the signing of the MoU marked the beginning of that journey.