Two of Zimbabwe’s leading opposition figures have united as a part of a new coalition of political parties determined to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
Mujuru was Mugabe’s vice president for 10 years before she was sacked from office and pushed out of the ruling Zanu-PF party in 2014, while Tsvangirai is a long-term critic of Mugabe who has contested the presidential elections multiple times.
The new coalition, which would be formed from at least a dozen Zimbabwean opposition parties, would include Mujuru’s National People’s Party and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change.
It is expected to be a formidable opponent in challenging Mugabe’s nearly four-decade stronghold on power.
Mugabe, 93, holds the record as the world’s oldest leader. He has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.
Increasingly frail and in poor health, he surprised many when he announced that he will contest the 2018 Zimbabwean presidential election.
The opposition has constantly accused Mugabe of electoral fraud and of using violence to remain in power, but analysts say his position was also made more formidable by a fractured opposition.
If the new coalition holds, it will be the first step in uniting a deeply divided opposition and providing the first real challenge to Mugabe at the polls.
On Wednesday, Mujuru and Tsvangirai signed a pact agreeing to work together after several months of consultations. The pair are no doubt two of the biggest names in the Zimbabwean opposition, and political observers say it will be interesting to see which one of them would be the presidential candidate in the 2018 elections.
“This is just the beginning of the building blocks toward establishing a broad alliance to confront Zanu-PF between now and the next election,” Tsvangirai told journalists after the signing.
Last December, a coalition of at least seven Gambian opposition parties choose real estate developer Adama Barrow as a consensus candidate for a presidential election, where he defeated strongman ruler Yahya Jammeh who had spent more than two decades in power.