MDC leader Welshman Ncube yesterday said Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders had a responsibility to “recapture the spirit of 1999” when the the Movement for Democratic Change was formed.
MDC emerged from a coalition of trade unionists, student leaders and other civil society groups to give Zanu PF its biggest challenge since independence in elections the following year.
However, the party split in 2005 with Ncube and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai leading different factions.
The divided parties have been finding it tough since then to dislodge President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF from power.
Last year, the parties suffered their heaviest defeat since the MDC was formed with Ncube’s formation failing to garner a single parliamentary seat.
The professor of law – who was appearing in public for the first time since the humiliating defeat, at the Bulawayo Press Club – said it was high time the opposition closed ranks.
“We need a convention of true democrats wherever they are located, free or not free, to relook at what went wrong and establish a credible agenda for change,” Ncube said.
“What might need to be done as we have a generational responsibility to recapture the spirit of 1999 and have a working people’s convention, in my view, is to have an organised opposition united by a common commitment in word and deed and sincere people who believe that we can eclipse Zanu PF.
“But if the opposition is fragmented the people will also remain divided. We can only win if we recapture the 1999 spirit.”
He said Mugabe had duped Zimbabweans to believe that the inclusive government (GNU) was a stumbling block to resuscitating the economy.
“The July (2013) elections were critical and Zanu PF won resoundingly, but with disastrous consequences,” he said. “Core issues of the election were on the economy and people voted and deposited confidence in Zanu PF to manage the economy for the benefit of all.
“Few would doubt that the economy is now far worse off than it was before the elections.
“People were seduced by Mugabe’s claim that the GNU was three-headed, but if left alone he could manage the economy.
“Zanu PF had no clue of managing the economy, but people voted for the high-sounding cliches which cannot and will not revive the economy.”
Tsvangirai has been pushing for a coalition to challenge Mugabe in the 2018 elections.
Meanwhile, Ncube denied allegations that his party would join forces with MDC-T rebels pushing for Tsvangirai’s ouster.
“We have refrained consciously from wading into MDC-T internal politics,” he said.
“We will not join anyone, we won’t be drawn into their fight. We had ours in 2005.”