'Mugabe doesn't own Zim'

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says President Robert Mugabe does not own Zimbabwe and will not be allowed to subvert the will of the people.

Speaking at a rally in Bubi, Matabeleland North on Saturday, where he was on a tour of the province, Tsvangirai said Mugabe and his Zanu PF were taking Zimbabwe as their personal property and urged people to vote them out of power in the coming elections.

Among the people who attended the rally were businesspeople, traditional leaders and MDC supporters in the area.

“If Mugabe and Zanu PF think they are going to subvert the will of the people, they are joking — we are not going to allow that. This country is not owned by Zanu PF, it is owned by Zimbabweans. We cannot allow this country to become Mugabe Private Limited,” Tsvangirai said.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai’s arch-rival withwhom he shares power in a shaky power-sharing agreement, has been in power since 1980 when the country attained independence from the British.

The unusual “bedfellows” came into a government of national unity after a disputed 2008 bloody and sham election which left over 200 MDC supporters dead.

The two have been at loggerheads for the past four years over Mugabe’s non-desire to complete reforms as agreed in the Sadc-driven coalition agreement.

Tsvangirai said Sadc is worried with Mugabe and Zanu PF’s behaviour.

The two are currently locked in a dispute over Mugabe’s unilateral proclamation of election dates which the MDC leader says should be process-driven to accommodate, among other things, media and security sector reforms.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has since filed a Constitutional Court application as directed by regional power broker Sadc during an extraordinary summit held in Maputo, Mozambique on June 15.

The application seeks an extension of the election date from July 31 to August 14.

The case is still pending.

The envisaged elections are set to mark the end of the coalition government and Tsvangirai has already predicted a crushing victory for his party.

“MDC will win all seats in Matabeleland North Province including Jonathan Moyo’s Tsholotsho North Constituency,” he said during the weekend rally.

Tsvangirai’s earlier meeting at Lupane Business Centre, about 40 km from Bubi was disrupted by police, who said the rally was unsanctioned.

“We don’t hate police and soldiers, but we want them to do the right thing.

“And also draconian laws like Posa do not create a conducive environment for free and fair elections, therefore should be repealed,” Tsvangirai said.

Police went on to arrest Bulawayo Agenda programmes manager Busani Ncube, whose organisation had facilitated the meeting between Tsvangirai and traditional chiefs in the district.

A group of armed police officers descended on the meeting venue just a few minutes before Tsvangirai’s arrival and ordered the traditional chiefs to disperse before arresting Ncube under the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).

Matabeleland North province police spokesperson Siphiwe Makonese told the Daily News that she was unaware of the disturbances.

“We have not received that report from Lupane Police Station yet,” Makonese said.

Last year, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, who has openly declared his support for Zanu PF, defended Posa as an effective tool for curbing lawlessness.

Tsvangirai has in the past said 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 rate. - Pindai Dube and Tendai Kamhungira

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