Mugabe attacks Tsvangirai

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has launched a foul-mouthed attack on his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, saying the latter was a flip-flopper due to his inclination for “taking advice from too many women”.

In an address to a Masvingo bumper crowd on Friday, the Zanu PF leader delivered a speech replete with lashings of irreverence, esoteric wit and rhetoric about the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader’s beautiful women.

In that tirade, Mugabe sought to convince voters that the former trade unionist was out of touch with their concerns about the deterioration of Zimbabwe’s moral fibre and candour.

“Kunyangwe uchienda kupillow, vamwe tinongoenda kupillow nemudzimai umwe chete,” he said at a chiefs’ rally and in remarks seen as mocking Tsvangirai’s bed-hopping past, adding it was such tendencies, which were even causing delays for the completion of the constitution journey.

“Neuyu (Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara) tinoziva kuti unongovavo mudzimai umwe chete. Zvino vamwe, ah, woenda kune uyu anoti kwete, uyu anoti hongu. Zvino wechitatu oti, ah muri kutaura chii, toda kunzwisisa zvamuri kuda?” Mugabe said to a loud applause from the Masvingo Polytechnic crowd.

“Ah saka isu, pamadecisions we are very clear. We make our decisions on the basis of principles.”

“Zvakatishupa pakuvaka hurumende yacho. Ah, wadzoka? Nezuro takati chokwadi tose tanzwanana here, chokwadi, chokwadi? Tese tikati chokwadi, chokwadi. Ko wazodzoka uchiti, ah, wapinduka? Ko sei? Ah, mazuva acho tanga tisati tazivana, asi tava kuzivana,” the Zimbabwean leader said.

However, the PM’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka has disputed Mugabe’s characterisation of his boss, saying the Zanu PF leader was given to “false and discredited attacks” on Tsvangirai in a bid to divert attention from his own failures.

“Civilised campaigns are not about personal attacks, they are about issues. The president ought to have concentrated on the business he was in Masvingo for. We know what haunts him, we know that on March 29, 2008 he was defeated by Morgan Tsvangirai. His fear is that it is about to happen again,” he said.

Mugabe also accused his rival — whom he ironically meets today at an indaba for the deferment of the referendum date from the agreed March 16 fixture — of taking instructions from the white men, whom he referred to as mabhunu or Boers.

Though small, Masvingo could be pivotal for Mugabe to win an eighth presidential term in the forthcoming and watershed vote, especially with Tsvangirai fiercely competing for larger election battlegrounds in the Mashonaland provinces, and seen as the 88 year-old leader’s bastions of support.

The octogenarian leader also unveiled an indigenisation programme for seven firms in the province, which have agreed to cede a majority 51 percent share to local blacks, in an election drive that was gaining traction until Daily News exposed that it was unlikely to benefit majorities, but a few well-heeled advisors.

Tsvangirai, a flawed character with one of the humblest demeanours and charisma from a man seeking a berth for State House, argues that his record in the inclusive government makes him a better candidate to steer Zimbabwe’s growth and bring down high unemployment after Mugabe’s disastrous 33-year reign — marked by a spectacular economic collapse and the world’s highest inflation rates.

Analysts say voter perceptions of Zanu PF’s empowerment drive, party policies and the morality of leaders are expected to dominate the election.

And as Masvingo is viewed as a swing province due to a self-styled perception by its voters that they are educated and independent, the vast province has emerged as a key battle ground for the dueling political forces.

In the past five elections, however, it has actually voted for Tsvangirai and was solidly behind the MDC leader in 2008. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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