BULAWAYO - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says genuine party supporters should not be seen to be legitimising flawed elections by participating in the forthcoming June 10 by-elections before essential electoral reforms are put in place.
Tsvangirai told his supporters last weekend to spoil ballots with the “no reform no election” demand if coerced to go and vote, which is likely to happen particularly in rural areas where government has told chiefs to force march villagers to polling booths.
“As a party, we have vowed not to participate in future elections even if it means giving Zanu PF all the parliamentary seats available because we cannot be seen to be giving legitimacy to a flawed system which (president) Mugabe has made sure no other party other than Zanu PF wins,” Tsvangirai told a campaign rally at a youth centre outside White City Stadium.
The MDC could not use the main arena because Zanu PF had “booked” the venue for a similar event but chickened out when it became evident by midday that the intended rally would flop.
Tsvangirai said it was amazing that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had allowed other State institutions to usurp its mandate and surrendered its role to conduct elections and register voters thereby ignoring practices to continue in the electoral process.
“Zec is not fair in registering voters. You shouldn’t be surprised in this by-election when voters from outside this constituency are allowed to cast ballots for a Zanu PF candidate in order to boost numbers,” Tsvangirai warned his supporters.
He said Mugabe has ignored Sadc electoral laws and norms taken on board by other regional governments even though he is chairing the AU and Sadc because he was more concerned with centralising power in his party.
“The crisis of legitimacy we are facing at the moment is because of Mugabe’s obsession with control. We have demanded bio-metric voters’ registration as is practiced in other countries in the region to avoid vote-rigging but our demands have been ignored until we as a party became so exasperated with Zanu PF’s attitude towards electoral reforms. We have vowed that the party will never participate in elections of any form without reform,” he said.
Turning to simmering divisions in Bulawayo provincial structures pitting the current acting chairperson and MP Dorcas Sibanda against deputy mayor Gift Banda who was dethroned by the High Court, Tsvangirai urged his supporters to refrain from factionalism and tribal divisions.
Deepening ructions within the party forced the MDC to dispatch an arbitrator to try and quell divisions between supporters of Gift Banda and Matson Hlalo who lost pre-Congress provincial chairmanship elections after Gorden Moyo resigned.
Tsvangirai said there should be unity among party supporters as much as among Zimbabweans as he railed into the recent gaffe by President Robert Mugabe when he labelled the Kalanga tribe as illiterate and prone to criminal activity.
“We cannot have a country that is based on tribal divisions.”