SOUTH AFRICA: MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is keeping his options open in the wake of former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dismissal from Zanu PF and government by keeping the door wide open for a possible alliance with the 75-year-old ex-guerrilla fighter.

In an interview with Sabc on Wednesday night, Tsvangirai — leader of the country’s largest opposition party — said Mnangagwa will not have it easy outside Zanu PF and should seriously think about his future in politics.

He said: “I think he has to think seriously about his future. He has to think seriously about what role he has to play in the future of the country. If he thinks he is going to be given any role without him playing a part, it would be naïve for him to think that way”.

Tsvangirai, who has fought President Robert Mugabe since his days in the trade union movement, seemed to suggest that Mnangagwa should join the “big tent”, which he is negotiating with Zimbabwe’s fringe opposition parties so that they can present one presidential candidate to take on the ageing Zanu PF leader at the 2018 polls.

Two coalitions — the MDC Alliance and the People’s Rainbow Coalition — have so far emerged, led by Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru, respectively. Talks to forge an alliance between the two opposition leaders broke down mid this year as both wanted to lead the coalition.

After Mugabe showed his deputy the door early this week, accusing him of showing little probity, Mnangagwa is under increasing pressure from his allies to join opposition politics.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the former vice president who is now in self-imposed exile, did not hide his desire to lead his countrymen, vowing to fight back and lead Zimbabwe at some point.

Whether he will strike a deal with Tsvangirai or go it alone still remains unclear. Few will, however, be surprised if they strike a deal because they have previously been said to have a working relationship.

In the early 2000, it was revealed that Tsvangirai had talked with independent mediators on behalf of Mnangagwa, who was the Speaker of Parliament then, and the then commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Vitalis Zvinavashe.

The MDC leader was later to reveal that “they wanted my assurance that if Mugabe retired, the MDC would take part in a transition towards new democratic elections”.

Tsvangirai named retired army colonel Lionel Dyke, a close associate of both men, as a mediator.

In a leaked WikiLeaks cable, a senior MDC official was quoted telling United States embassy staff in Harare that South Africa’s African National Congress had agreed to a Zanu PF plan for Mnangagwa to replace Mugabe, while offering token representation to the opposition.

Recently, Reuters reported that Mnangagwa was envisaging cooperating with Tsvangirai to lead a transitional government for five years with the tacit backing of some of Zimbabwe’s military and Britain.