Tsvangirai ‘refuses’ talks with Mugabe

Embattled opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claimed on Wednesday that veteran President Robert Mugabe had attempted to talk to him after last month’s disputed elections.

Tsvangirai, who has dismissed the 31 July election as a “farce” after it extended Mugabe’s 33-year rule by another five years, appeared to reject any such talks.

“After stealing the vote, they don’t even know where to start,” he said, referring to Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

“They are now asking, ‘Where is Tsvangirai, so that we can talk?’ Talk about what?” he said at the burial of a party activist who died last week.

But Zanu-PF denied ever approaching Tsvangirai for discussions.

“There is nothing like that,” Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told AFP.

Tsvangirai “was never approached and if he is saying that, it’s a lie and [that’s] ridiculous and mischievous”, Gumbo added.

Mugabe was declared the winner with 61% of the ballot, against Tsvangirai’s 34%.

Tsvangirai, who took part in a power-sharing government with Mugabe over the past four years, has said he will only settle for a vote re-run.

He has filed a petition at the country’s top court which he vowed will expose “glaring evidence of the stolen vote”.

Biggest fraud

Added to the crushing defeat at the polls, he said the party suffered a blow with the death of activist Rebecca Mafikeni in a state hospital where she was transferred from remand prison.

“We are mourning the loss of Rebecca and we are also mourning as a nation because of someone who says he has won fairly in an election which should be the biggest fraud the world has ever seen,” Tsvangirai said.

Mafikeni, 29, was among 29 activists from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party detained since May 2011 on allegations of killing an officer as riot police broke up an MDC rally. She had been awaiting trial.

“Rebecca’s death is an indictment of our prison system, an indictment of our justice system,” Tsvangirai said.

“How can one spend two years in remand prison? This is totally intolerable. People are being arrested for political reasons while criminals are going scot-free.”

He said the outcome of his court challenge against Mugabe’s win was predictable but urged his supporters to remain calm.

“We should not set our own house on fire,” he said.

Mugabe on Monday vowed never to let go of his victory, telling Tsvangirai and his party to “go hang”.

Meanwhile South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday denied an earlier report he would end his mediation efforts in Zimbabwe.

The political crisis is not on the agenda for the annual summit of 15-member regional bloc the Southern African Development Community this weekend.

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