Zimbabwe PM to oppose Mugabe in general election
Morgan Tsvangirai forges pact with former allies of veteran president
Crowds cheer Zimbabwe opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai at the launch of his party’s election campaign in Marondera, about 70km east of Harare, at the weekend. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai has forged a coalition with former allies of president Robert Mugabe as part of his bid to unseat his political nemesis in elections scheduled for July 31st.
The pact between Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, Mr Mugabe’s former finance minister Simba Makoni and the Zanu-Ndonga party was announced this week after election campaigning officially got under way.
The three partners will support each other during the elections at the parliamentary and local authority level, and form a “government of national unity” if they win the majority of the vote, Mr Makoni, flanked by Mr Tsvangirai, told a press conference in Harare.
“The government of national unity will be based on the free will of the people as opposed to the current coalition government created after the subversion of the will of the people in the 2008 presidential election,” he said.
State-sponsored violence That year Mr Makoni won 8 per cent of the tally in the race for the presidency – stopping an outright win by Mr Tsvangirai over Mr Mugabe in the first round of the vote.
This lead to a presidential run-off that was marred by widespread state-sponsored violence and subsequently abandoned by Mr Tsvangirai.
This year’s general election will end the four-year-old powersharing arrangement between the MDC and Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party that emerged from the discredited 2008 poll. But there are serious concerns over whether it will be free and fair.
Under the terms of the South African Development Community backed deal signed by both parties in 2009, a long list of security, media, and electoral reforms were to be introduced before new polls could take place.
However many of these reforms, which are needed to level a political playing field skewed in Zanu-PF’s favour, have not been adopted by state institutions because of a refusal by Mugabe loyalists to implement them.
While the level of violence that Zimbabweans experienced during the 2008 polls – over 200 people were murdered – has not yet materialised, there are concerns Zanu-PF may be rigging the voters’ roll to secure victory.
Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede has denied the accusation, but a report issued by the Harare based Research & Advocacy Unit last week reveals big discrepancies in the voters’ roll when compared to the population census.
On Sunday at his party’s campaign launch Mr Tsvangirai said he had read “the national mood” and has agreed to contest the poll. Zimbabweans were eager to vote against Mr Mugabe, he said.