There are a total of seven political parties in the MDC Alliance, but as of late only three parties have been given the opportunity to address people at the MDC Alliance Rallies. The development was first noticed in Plumtree where only Welshman Ncube, Tendai Biti and Chamisa were the only principals given the opportunity to address the people even though all the seven Alliance principals were present. The trend which was initially thought to have been due to the bad weather in Plumtree was noticed again in the Alliance rallies that were held over the weekend in Midlands. Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube and Nelson Chamisa were the only principals to address the crowds in both the rallies in Midlands, an act which seem more like a deliberate attempt by the former 'MDC' leaders to sideline the other MDC Alliance partners.
In an public interview with journalists after the MDC Alliance Rally held in Gweru at Mkoba stadium on Sunday, the MDC Alliance spokesperson professor Welshman Ncube said "the original vision behind the formation of the Alliance was to reunite the split elements of the original MDC namely the MDC T now led by Chamisa, the MDC led by myself and PDP led by Tendai Biti. This is why Mr Tsvangirai engaged us in the Alliance talks first before any other party was invited for the talks. Mr Tsvangirai's vision was to recreate and reunite the original MDC party." This would help explain why the Alliance is called the 'MDC' Alliance despite the suggestions by the other Alliance partners to have a more neutral and accommodative name. The name issue was also part of the reasons why Mai Mujuru refused to become part of the Alliance. The utterance by Welshman Ncube coupled with the sidelining of other alliance partners which is fast becoming a norm might be an indication that sooner or later the other four alliance partners could be dropped from the MDC Alliance.
Upon being asked what the power dynamics where like in the Alliance and who the Vice president of the Alliance is, Prof Welshman Ncube said that the Alliance agreement does not provide for the position of the Vice president. "However, the order and manner in which speeches are delivered at the Alliance rallies should tell you what the power hierarchy is like in the Alliance," said Professor Ncube. In all the Alliance rallies that have been held this year, Biti followed by Ncube ending with Chamisa has been the structure of speech delivery. Quoting from Ncube's speech, he is the deputy president of the opposition grouping.The other partners were allocated a mere 3 to 5 minutes each to speak to the people but that 'privilege' has since been revoked since none of them were allowed to speak in the last three rallies. At best, the other Alliance principals are only being allowed to greet the people while the three Musketeers i.e. Welshman Ncube, Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa enjoy the lion's share of the rally programs.
The same trait of sidelining other political players in a political collaboration was also witnessed last year under the then National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) a few weeks before its demise. It led to a division which formed the two main coalitions in the opposition parties of Zimbabwe namely the MDC Alliance then led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the People's Rainbow Coalition led by Joice Mujuru.
The MDC Alliance was formed in August last year with the aim of minimising vote splitting within the Zimbabwean opposition to maximise the chances of defeating ZANU PF in this year's elections. Seven political parties signed the agreement namely MDC-T, MDC, TZ, PDP, MCD, ZANU Ndonga and Zim PF.
By parliamentary represenation, MDC T is the biggest opposition political party in the Alliance followed by MDC led by Welshman Ncube. The other parties do not have any parliamentary representation with Tendai Biti being the only other principal who has been in government before. However Tendai Biti was reportedly fired from his own political party last year in September. PDP is reportedly currently being led by one Mr Matibenga and claims not to be part of the MDC Alliance which makes Tendai Biti just a name with no ground force.
The rest of the Alliance partners are relatively new political parties formed after 2013, with Jacob Ngarivhume's TZ being the only party to have participated in an election besides MDC-T and MDC. The party participated in the 2015 by-elections and came out second in most of the constituencies after Zanu PF, surpassing the performance of big names and older political parties like Lovemore Madhuku's NCA and Simba Makoni's MKD even though the party was barely a year old by that time. How much ground it has covered now and how much effect it could have on the opposition vote if it contested outside of the Alliance remains a mistrey.
As for Mutambara's Zim Pf and Guchutu's MCD, their performance and impact in an election is yet to be seen as this year's election will be their first.
Will the sidelining and dropping of other Alliance partners benefit the people of Zimbabwe? What will the division mean for the opposition vote? Is the MDC alone under Chamisa solid enough to win power? One can only wonder.
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