Zimbabwe African People’s Union leader Dumiso Dabengwa has traded the presidency to Movement for Democratic Change Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa for “some agreed slots” to be chosen on proportional representation and also for Chamisa’s party not to contest ZAPU candidates in “some parliamentary seats”.
He said it was a pity that the proposed Grand National Coalition which would have resulted in opposition parties fielding one candidate had failed because of personal egos and vanity but he had decided to throw in his lot behind Chamisa.
Some 23 candidates filed their nomination papers on Thursday to contest for president on 30 July.
“In bilateral negotiations between ZAPU and the MDC-Alliance, the two entities have finally arrived at a Memorandum of a Political Cooperation Agreement,” Dabengwa said.
“Through this agreement, the two entities have committed themselves to the promotion of practical cooperation in what they view as a turning point in the struggle for democracy and good governance in Zimbabwe.”
Dabengwa said a united opposition had failed mainly because of competition for the top spot of presidential candidate, yet it was essential to enhance the capacity of one of the opposition leaders to take over the country’s presidency.
“My party is, therefore, throwing its weight behind Nelson Chamisa as a presidential candidate in the 2018 elections for which I am not standing, in his favour.
“This is consistent with the line we have taken that personal egos and vanity should not be allowed to prevent us from crafting a combination capable of bringing about a democratic transition essential for peace, security, economic reconstruction and development. Zimbabweans deserve this, both current and future generations.
“In terms of our agreement, the parties remain autonomous and ZAPU will continue to campaign for its candidates. However, the two entities will make sure that they do not compete against each other in some parliamentary seats.
“In addition, the MDC-Alliance will reserve some agreed slots for ZAPU among those to be chosen on the basis of proportional representation (PR),” he said.
Dabengwa said he will actively support the candidacy of Nelson Chamisa and be at hand to support if he wins the presidential contest.
ZAPU candidates too will include in their campaigns the party’s commitment to the cooperation agreement and the presidency of Nelson Chamisa, he said.
It is not clear which seats Chamisa will reserve for Dabengwa as there are some whispers that the MDC Alliance leader has already short-changed some of his partners in the Alliance.
The full picture will be known on 25 June when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission publishes the final list of candidates to contest the elections.