I'm ready to rule: Tsvangirai

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he is ready to rule and promised to deal with corruption allegations levelled against MDC councillors and some officials throughout the country.

Tsvangirai claims he will win next year’s elections by a wide margin and promised that power transfer will be peaceful.

“MDC is ready and so am I,” Tsvangirai said. “I am ready to take power. After we win the elections, we should defend our victory but we need stability,” said Tsvangirai speaking at a provincial meeting in Mutare last Friday.

Analysts have pointed out that Tsvangirai and his main rival, President Robert Mugabe are in a tight race that Zimbabwe might end up with another coalition government but the MDC leader believes he will win outright.

 “Do not be afraid of victory,”

Tsvangirai said. “We got into government with no experience but we had a plan. Right now we will use the experience we got in government but we must be clear on what we want to do for the people from day one. Our transition plan in government is to create jobs, build enabling infrastructure, improve the education and health sector among other things,” he said.

He urged his supporters to “complete the change.”  

“We are going through a generational transition; from those who fought the liberation struggle to those who want to develop the independent Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We are also going through a political transition where we have to change the political culture set by Zanu PF over the past three decades of one man one rule, of an imperial president. We want to change from a political transition of dominance by one party, by one man.

 “As MDC, we want to create a modern, democratic and developmental state. Our governance should give hope to the people,” he said.

He repeated the same message to provincial delegates on Saturday at Trojan Mine Hall in Bindura.
In Mutare, Tsvangirai admitted some councillors throughout the country had damaged the MDC through allegations of corruption.

During their just-ended conference, Zanu PF announced that among other campaign tactics, they will take advantage of the rot in MDC councils.

One of Zanu PF’s statements reads: “...We are  appalled by the rampant corruption in urban councils that are under the control of MDC formations across the country and which have resulted in abominable service delivery, particularly in areas such as education, health, water, power and urban roads that have led to periodic outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and all manner of water borne diseases.”

Tsvangirai reacted to this and said: “Some of the councillors have damaged the image of this party and this time we want to set qualifications for councillors who we will give performance bench marks.

“We need to know what you are going to contribute in that council. We have zero tolerance to corruption. No, no, no, no to corruption.”

Tsvangirai’s tirade against corrupt MDC officials marks a dramatic change for the forthcoming MDC primary elections.

Zanu PF has used the MDC councils’ corruption as campaign fodder, consistently thumbing its nose at the party for abandoning its mandate in local authorities.

Critics revel in tales of some of Tsvangirai’s allies who in a matter of three years in government have moved from slums to plush homes and bought luxury cars.

Tsvangirai has fired dozens of MDC councillors after a probe team unearthed widespread graft in local authorities, and said he unlike Mugabe would not tolerate any whiff of misconduct within his team.

Transparency International rates Zimbabwe as the most corrupt nation in southern Africa, ranked 163 in 176 countries polled worldwide, according to the December 5, 2012 corruption perception index.

 Tsvangirai constantly tries to link Mugabe with politicians who are pocketing diamond revenues while poverty deepens.

“There is a distinctive narrative between the performance of Zanu PF in governance and MDC performance in governance,” Tsvangirai told the Mutare delegates — the 11th such meeting in his nationwide whirlwind tour to meet MDC structures.

“We should not repeat a culture of corruption created by Zanu PF. Ngatitadzei tichiedza. We should have commitment to move this country forward.”

Tsvangirai, 60, who says Zimbabwe’s mix of capitalism and strong social welfare programmes is his economic model, seeks to project an image of youth, energy and attention to grassroots problems.

At stake for Zimbabweans is the ideological trajectory of their country.

Mugabe offers two distinct paths — indigenisation and jobs — to solve the problems that are on Zimbabwean minds: decaying infrastructure, slowing economic growth, joblessness, high crime rate and political polarisation.

Zanu PF fears Tsvangirai will roll back programmes like the land reform and the empowerment programme initiated by Mugabe.

Tsvangirai urged his party to unite ahead of elections. He spoke as National Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku insists that there is a plot to remove him from power within the MDC.

 “A team is not an individual,” he said. “If we are to win, we win as a team. There is no loser in a winning team.

“Leadership is about influence, it’s not about how many degrees you have.”

 “It’s good to be educated but be educated with a purpose. Don’t try to run a personal programme, hazvizi zvako, ndezveparty,” the PM said without mentioning names. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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