Hold it, Tsvangirai tells Mugabe

HARARE - Gone are the days when President Robert Mugabe would unilaterally run the country, including calling for elections, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told his supporters in Chiredzi yesterday.

Tsvangirai, who formed the coalition government with bitter rival Mugabe after marginally winning the March 2008 elections and boycotting a subsequent run-off due to violence, said the power-sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA) had severely curtailed Mugabe’s hold on power.

Under the agreement, Mugabe has to consult Tsvangirai on key decisions such as election timing.

Addressing thousands of MDC supporters in Chiredzi yesterday, the former trade union leader described Mugabe’s public pronouncements of a June 29 general election as a “hallucination”.

Tsvangirai, who had to intervene to stop Mugabe from smuggling into the High Court the June 29 poll plot, yesterday said the former guerrilla leader is hoodwinking his supporters as he is aware that under the GPA, he has been stripped of power to act without consulting other players.

“Mugabe and I will agree on the election date. Mugabe knows that he cannot declare a date unilaterally,” Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai, who prefers a September 16 general election, said polls would only be held after the full implementation of the GPA. The reforms include media and security sector realignment.

“We do not hate the police or the army but we want them to be professional, non-partisan and apolitical,” he said.

Tsvangirai, whose duel with Mugabe is likely to be the main attraction during the general election, promised cheering loyalists that this time around the vote “will not be stolen as was the case in 2008”.

“We are here in Chiredzi to prepare for a new beginning. You will deliver the victory and you have a job to make sure that the journey we started in 1999 will be achieved as you know that the vote was stolen from us in 2008,” he said.

“At the congress in 2006, we agreed to pressurise Mugabe and Zanu PF to the negotiating table. Our main objectives were a new constitution then a free and fair election but there was a price to pay. Others were killed while others were raped but we took the sacrifice,” said Tsvangirai.

Civil society, churches and Tsvangirai’s MDC say over 200 people were killed in the violence that followed Mugabe’s March 2008 first round poll defeat. Thousands were maimed while others fled their homes to become refugees in their own country, he said, adding that the formation of a coalition government was meant to clip Mugabe and his militant backers.

“We had to figure out how to handle a dictator using democratic means. We didn’t want war. We now have a new constitution which will introduce a new democratic political culture,” said Tsvangirai.

Last month, Tsvangirai and Mugabe agreed to a new constitution, which among other things curtails imperial presidential powers, guarantees civil liberties and gives women an advantage over men in elections and issues such as the death penalty.

With millions of Zimbabweans still unemployed, Tsvangirai said the new constitutional dispensation would address such challenges.

“The four years we have spent in the Government of National Unity (GNU) have been useful in soft landing Zimbabwe’s crisis. These years in government have shown that we are able to deliver. We encourage people to register and vote in the coming elections,” said Tsvangirai.

“We must all mobilise to register and vote to complete the change. It is not Zanu PF that can solve our problems because they were the ones who destroyed this economy.

“The MDC can create jobs, which can bring investment and make the economy functional,” he said.

Comments (1)

reforms first please

mabhunu muchapera - 15 April 2013

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