2018 victory is certain: Tsvangirai


GWERU – A buoyant opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, yesterday told thousands of his supporters who braved the chilly and drizzly weather in the Midlands capital that President Robert Mugabe’s advanced age — coupled with the ruling Zanu PF’s vicious infighting — would deliver victory to the MDC in next year’s make-or-break national elections.

The popular former prime minister in the government of national unity — who said he had been “energised” by the bumper crowd which packed Mkoba Stadium — also assured long-suffering Zimbabweans that change would take place in 2018 notwithstanding the involvement of a Chinese firm in the sourcing of the country’s biometric voter registration (BVR) kits.

“The coming election is not about Mugabe versus Tsvangirai, but about evil versus good. It’s also something that is going to shock the world that a 94-year-old stands for an election. How can that be possible?”

“Some in Zanu PF have said they will even conduct their party’s politburo meetings at his grave, while others have said he (Mugabe) is God. Is that what Christians do?

“Whether Mugabe stands (in 2018) or not, it’s still a loss (for Zanu PF) because those who will support him will be very few and even if they put up someone else, very few will support him … Even if they try to steal the elections they won’t succeed,” Tsvangirai told the cheering crowds.

“Zanu (PF) cannot convince the people that it is defining a new direction for the country when is has failed dismally in the last four decades,” he thundered further.

Zanu PF is currently sharply divided, with the camp which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, the Generation 40 (G40) faction, involved in a life-and-death tussle with the VP’s backers, Team Lacoste.

Mugabe and his Zanu PF colleagues, in power since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980, have also been accused of running down Zimbabwe’s once prosperous economy through ruinous policies.

Zimbabwe is also currently in the grip of a ginormous economic crisis which has seen the country experiencing acute shortages of cash, amid horrendous company closures and jobless levels.

Against this background, Tsvangirai also urged people to register to vote in huge numbers in next year’s watershed polls.

The dogged former labour union leader also allayed widespread fears about a Chinese company, Laxton Group, being awarded a tender to supply the country’s BVR kits.

“BVR cannot be manipulated. The Chinese were chosen with the involvement of the United Nations … So, don’t doubt because it’s China, don’t be afraid,” he said.

This comes as the MDC had earlier expressed outrage over the recent decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to award the BVR kits tender to Laxton — which it suspected may be used by Zanu PF to manipulate the crucial polls.

The country’s quest to acquire BVR kits had earlier in the process also caused a huge political storm, with opposition parties viewing the government’s involvement in the purchase of the equipment as problematic.

This was after the government suddenly decided to sideline the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from procuring the BVR kits, with unanswered questions being raised about how Mugabe’s stone-broke administration was able to secure funding for this, to the staggering tune of $17 million.

Yesterday, Tsvangirai also hinted that the long-mooted grand opposition coalition was nearing finalisation.

However, he warned that without needed electoral reforms, the electoral alliance was unlikely to achieve its goals of wrestling power from Zanu PF.

“There is no other country in the region that violates Sadc principles and standards except Zimbabwe,” he said.

Tsvangirai and other leaders of the smaller opposition parties have been demanding sweeping electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 elections.

At the same time, he has been finalising talks towards the formation of the envisaged alliance, whose prospects were brightened when he recently signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with former Vice President Joice Mujuru and his one time secretary-general, Welshman Ncube.

Analysts have said the opposition, contesting next year’s elections as a united front, stands a good chance of finally bringing an end to both Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s long rule.

Optimism has been high within opposition circles ever since Tsvangirai and Mujuru joined forces and walked the streets of Gweru in August last year, in a rare public show of unity.

And Tsvangirai yesterday was reminded by the exuberant crowd that turned up at his rally how important he was to ordinary Zimbabweans’ hopes for a new political dispensation in the country.

“Thank you for coming in your numbers. Gweru madadisa (you have done the country proud,” Tsvangirai said on micro-blogging site Twitter, an hour after ending his rally.

Meanwhile, eight war veterans and war collaborators from Mashonaland East who defected from Zanu PF were introduced to MDC supporters at yesterday’s rally.

Tsvangirai said it was important for both the ruling Zanu PF and war veterans to remember that the fight for independence was a collaborative effort between ordinary people and freedom fighters, adding that the purpose of the liberation struggle was to uphold the ideals of freedom and the right to vote.

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