By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
30 April 2014
The MDC-T ‘renewal team’ is facing accusations of stealing the idea of forming a United Democratic Front (UDF) which they intend to use as a new initiative to challenge President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF’s 34 year rule.
The claim was made by Solomon Chikohwero, chairperson of the Global Zimbabwe Forum. He said the idea of a United Democratic Front was mooted during his tenure as chairperson of the South African based MDC Veterans Activists Association in 2011, after getting disillusioned by the dysfunctional government of national unity.
Renewal team spokesperson Jacob Mafume told the Newsday newspaper on Tuesday that they were in talks with the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, ZAPU led by Dumiso Dabengwa, civic society groups and others to come up with a winning team for the 2018 elections. This coalition of groups was to come under the umbrella of a UDF.
However, Chikohwero suggested the renewal team is attempting to take credit for his plans to form a grand coalition to challenge Mugabe. He told SW Radio Africa’s Hidden Story program on Wednesday that he drafted the UDF document with the help of economist and businessman Luke Zunga, who was the MDC activists association treasurer at the time.
‘I got the idea of UDF from a friend who works for COSATU who had also realized that the unity government in Harare was not moving things forward. That’s when he explained that in South Africa, the apartheid regime was brought down by a UDF initiative and not just the ANC or its armed wing the Umkhonto we Sizwe,’ he said.
The former Head of the MDC-T intelligence department said after realizing the answer to the crisis in Zimbabwe would not come from South Africa, SADC or the political formations in the country, he decided to craft the UDF project.
‘As I strongly believed that the answer to our crisis lay with the people of Zimbabwe, a collective movement of all the citizens, I roped in Zunga to draft the document and we sent it to Harvest House for consideration,’ Chikohwero said.
A member of the MDC-T national council, Tranner Ruzvidzo, was used as a courier to hand deliver the document to then party secretary-general Tendai Biti.
‘After it was hand delivered to Biti by Ruzvidzo we never heard anything of that document and presumed they didn’t like the idea since they were cabinet ministers in the GNU, until a few weeks ago when we started hearing murmurs about a new party to be called the United Democratic Front,’ claimed Chikohwero.
He said he was not against any progressive democrats using the idea, but wanted those using it to acknowledge where it originated from.
‘We are the rightful owners of that idea, so as long as they credit its source we have no problems with that. What we don’t want is for the idea to be used to advance ZANU PF and Mugabe’s chances of winning the 2018 elections because the project was all about uniting Zimbabweans to get rid of ZANU PF,’ Chikohwero emphasized.