Former Zimbabwe Vice-President Joice Mujuru has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with leading opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The two are seeking a coalition against President Robert Mugabe ahead of next year’s elections.
Mrs Mujuru was fired from President Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF and government in 2014 after she was accused of trying to use witchcraft to eliminate the 93-year-old ruler.
She has since formed her own party, the National People’s Party (NPP), and the MOU with Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), provides a roadmap for a coalition.
A larger project
Zimbabwe has over 50 opposition parties and President Mugabe – in power since 1980 – often benefits from split votes to hang on to power.
Mr Tsvangirai, who has faced the veteran ruler in three elections since 2002, said his MOU with Mrs Mujuru was the beginning of a larger project to dislodge the president in 2018.
“We have chosen this day to take the first step to bring all Zimbabweans under one roof so that we can work together to remove this unmitigated repression and misgovernance that pervades our lives,” he said.
“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.
“Similar arrangements will be entered into with other political formations and we will inform you as it happens, as we have done today.”
However, Mrs Mujuru and Mr Tsvangirai have been accused of sidelining other opposition parties in the negotiations.
But the prime minister during an inclusive government with President Mugabe between 2009 and 2013, insisted the coalition would involve all Zimbabweans.
Playing your part
“This is our collective struggle and I call upon the people of Zimbabwe to join us in working together and in playing your part so that we can reclaim our country, our freedom and our dignity,” Mr Tsvangirai said.
“As President Mugabe enters the sunset of his life, it is incumbent upon all of us to pick the pieces and rebuild our country together.”
According to analysts, Mrs Mujuru who was Zimbabwe’s youngest minister at independence and President Mugabe’s deputy for two decades, gives the opposition liberation war credentials.
President Mugabe has in the past accused opposition leaders of being puppets of the West bent on reversing Zimbabwe’s independence and that often resonated with the rural electorate.
His last term
Mrs Mujuru said change was on the horizon for Zimbabwe after the signing of the MOU.
“This is just a roadmap of how we shall move from here to the Promised Land,” she said.
“It provides a platform to talk to each other without missing out on important aspects.”
President Mugabe, at 94 next year, would stand for his last term in office despite indications that his health was failing.