Tsvangirai sets conditions for polls

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has set conditions for watershed elections likely to be held next year.

Tsvangirai told hundreds of his supporters in Zaka, Masvingo province that he will only take part in elections if Sadc, the African Union and United Nations observers are deployed in the country to monitor the crucial polls.

He said he will boycott the elections if the military was allowed to continue running President Robert Mugabe’s campaign.

“We will not go into elections if the conditions for free and fair elections are not there and also if we do not have UN, AU and Sadc monitors because we are aware that Zanu PF is recruiting soldiers for military training ahead of the polls,” said Tsvangirai.

The MDC leader who has been in a coalition government with bitter rival Mugabe of Zanu PF since 2008, at the weekend threatened to pull out of the coalition government citing sustained violence meted on his supporters and renewed cases of intimidation as reasons that could trigger such a radical move.

In 2010, Tsvangirai who labelled Mugabe a “hypocrite” partially pulled from the tenuous “unity” government.

“Mugabe is a hypocrite, he pretends to preach peace to the nation but his party is still beating up and burning people’s homes. I am not happy with what I saw at the hospital, it is four years after this government was formed and we agreed to make peace but that is not the case,” he said.

Repeating the statement he made in 2008 following an orgy of violence targeting his supporters Tsvangirai said in Masvingo: “I am not prepared to step over dead bodies to the state house.”

Despite having tea every Monday with the 88-year-old Zanu PF leader, Tsvangirai said he is increasingly becoming disillusioned by Mugabe’s double-speak on violence and peace.

“We are seriously considering pulling out of this unity government because of continued acts of political violence to our members.

“I will be calling an emergency general council meeting to decide on this,” he said.

The setting of conditions for polls by the former trade unionist comes at a time when the High Court recently granted Mugabe’s request to have elections in March 2013.

Both Tsvangirai and Industry minister Welshman Ncube, the leader of the smaller MDC formation, are agreed that elections can only be held in a free and fair environment.

Among the other pre-conditions for polls are security sector and media reforms.

Tsvangirai said he is aware that Zanu PF has already roped in soldiers to engage in a terror
campaign against MDC supporters ahead of forthcoming elections.

In Zaka, Tsvangirai visited Nelson Bvudzijena, a 72-year-old MDC activist in hospital nursing petrol bomb-caused injuries.

On Saturday, Tsvangirai whose party was remembering its “fallen heroes”, also toured five homesteads of his party supporters which were destroyed in 2008.

The MDC leader also visited the MDC office at Jerera growth point where two party members were killed after soldiers doused 20 litres of petrol and locked officials inside before setting the building on fire.

In the company of his wife Elizabeth Macheka, Tsvangirai donated food hampers, groceries and blankets to over 30 victims of political violence who survived the 2008 attacks.


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