Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe has used Zanu-PF’s final elections rally before Wednesday’s polls to fire another broadside at his challenger, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mugabe yesterday threatened the MDC-T leader with arrest and incarceration should his party’s observers announce the election results from polling stations before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) does so.
Speaking to about 40 000 people filling two-thirds of Harare’s Chinese-built National Sports Stadium, Mugabe called Tsvangirai a “cry baby” for mistrusting the ZEC and for slamming the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“What kind of a crazy man is that,” he said. “He is a lawbreaker, the police will arrest you as a lawbreaker,” he said.
Tsvangirai had been arrested under Mugabe’s rule at least three times since 2000 after it was alleged that he had incited violence. In 2007, he was badly tortured and suffered severe head injuries.
Mugabe also made fun of the MDC, saying it had been created by the British and Europe to punish him, but he claimed several times in his speech that his Zanu-PF was teaching the MDC about politics.
Tsvangirai, who has been Zimbabwe’s prime minister since the 2009 power-sharing accord, is meeting Mugabe head-on for the third time in a battle to make or break his political career.
But he goes to the polls a bitter man, angry at the AU for declaring Zimbabwe ready for the elections, and angry at his longtime backers in the West who seem to have lost faith in him.
Tsvangirai in his last two presidential attempts claimed to have been cheated and believes Zanu-PF is out to “steal” this election too.
He has also lashed out at AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for telling the world that all was well ahead of the polls, despite warnings from opposition parties that there were challenges.
“For one to say that I did not say anything (about elections being under threat) is not only unfortunate, but downright misleading. You ask her (Dlamini-Zuma) why she said that,” he said. “It puts into question her integrity as an impartial observer in this process. No one wants a contestable outcome,” an irate Tsvangirai told a small rally in Harare on Friday.
Tsvangirai is also unhappy about the sudden softening of the West towards Zanu-PF by openly showing its willingness to lift sanctions.
“l want to say this: whether the whole world endorses the outcome and say Robert Mugabe has won, the people will know the truth and it is the world that would have turned a blind eye to the wishes of the people of this country,” he told Friday’s rally.
Polls done last year by Afrobarometer and Freedom House showed that Tsvangirai’s support had been waning after not delivering on reforms since joining the coalition government with Mugabe
Yesterday’s turnout at Mugabe’s Zanu-PF rally in Harare was also better than in 2008, according to locals. Mugabe’s support is traditionally stronger in the rural than urban areas.
One of Tsvangirai’s worries ahead of Wednesday’s polls is that some of the ballot papers used during the special vote for police and elections staff last week, with his name marked, were allegedly found in a dustbin. MDC-T’s election organiser, Morgan Komichi, the person who unearthed the alleged scandal, has since been arrested.
Zimbabwe’s election body issued a statement saying Komichi did not follow proper procedure, thereby making it hard to authenticate his claim.
Meanwhile, telecoms companies have blocked bulk SMSes to prevent NGOs and civic organisations from publishing the results before these had been announced. Zanu-PF fears that this could cause “despondency”.
In 2008, these organisations took to putting up the elections results outside each polling station in a bid to ensure fairness.
» Folow our team’s daily coverage from Zimbabwe here and on Twitter @City_Press
Powered by WPeMatico