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Tsvangirai To Contest In Run-off

MAIN opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai will contest the looming presidential election run-off despite his public remarks to the contrary.

This came as the presidential election candidates or their agents yesterday met Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials to tackle the crisis triggered by the withholding of results — more than a month later — due to a demand by President Robert Mugabe for a recount of the votes.

Yesterday’s emergency meeting took place against a backdrop of a fresh problem sparked off by ZEC’s leakage of official results to defeated Zanu PF leaders who in turn passed them on to the international media in a bid to sustain their pursuit for a run-off.

ZEC and Zanu PF were anxious to ward off mounting pressure for results to come out and build a case for a run-off, especially against a background of MDC’s claims that Tsvangirai had won the election outright.

“The result gives us a decisive victory so there’s no need for a run-off,” Tsvangirai told France 24 from Johannesburg yesterday. “How can you have a run-off when Mugabe over the last month has been unleashing violence, death squads and violence against our structures?”

The MDC says Zanu PF has deployed state security forces — the army, police and intelligence units — across the country to campaign for Mugabe.

This, it says, has triggered a wave of violence nationwide, which has claimed more than a dozen lives and left a climate of fear. A bruising political campaign is expected in the run-up to the run-off.

Although Tsvangirai insisted he would not enter a run-off, information gleaned from documents on the deal between the two MDC factions to work together in parliament shows he will take on Mugabe in the second round. 

“This agreement is premised on the underlying assumption that Morgan Tsvangirai has either won the 2008 Zimbabwean presidential elections held on 29 March 2008, or will face a ‘run-off’ election,” the MDC agreement says.

“In the event of a ‘run-off’ election, the parties undertake to campaign together to ensure that Tsvangirai wins the ‘run-off’ election.”

According to ZEC results, Tsvangirai got 47,8% and Mugabe 43,2% of the vote. Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana shared the difference.

This means officially a run-off would now follow within 21 days after the official announcement of the results.

The results leaked to the foreign media this week were the same as those given to the candidates yesterday.

The MDC said it was shocked by the conduct of ZEC and Zanu PF officials, who after failing to release figures for more than a month, leaked the results to the ‘hostile media’.

Candidates, due to meet again today, were given results but had to enter a secrecy pledge not to leak the already known figures.

Verification by the candidates would begin today and may last a number of days.

The MDC accord shows that Tsvangirai — who indicated he would come back home after announcement of results — will battle Mugabe in the run-off.

The MDC agreement — facilitated by exiled local tycoon Strive Masiyiwa based in South Africa — was finalised this week.

The reunification of the MDC in parliament effectively relegated Zanu PF to opposition benches, while ensuring Mugabe is in the meantime the leader of the official opposition.

The two MDC formations reached the deal meant to secure control of the House of Assembly in the aftermath of elections which produced a hung parliament.

None of the parties was able to win an absolute  majority to be in command of parliament on its own. This led to cooperation between MDC factions.

The MDC factions have also agreed to reunify to revert to being a single party within a year.

In terms of their agreement, titled Coalition and Cooperation Agreement, the parties agreed to work together not just in parliament, but also in other platforms, including during the anticipated presidential election run-off.

“The parties acknowledge that they are two separate formations, but for purposes of consummating this agreement, the parties irrevocably agree and undertake to vote as one, in the legislature,” the document says.

The parties agreed to have one chief whip and caucus; to vote together in parliament; to elect a Speaker of Parliament, nominated by the MDC (Tsvangirai) and a deputy speaker from MDC (Mutambara). 

Initially it was agreed that Mutambara’s faction would provide its deputy leader Gibson Sibanda as the speaker, but it was later changed.

There had been suggestions that Welshman Ncube be the speaker but officials in the Tsvangirai camp refused.

The Mutambara camp would now provide the deputy speaker and chief whip of the united MDC.

However Sibanda could be appointed President of Senate, sources said yesterday.

Arrangements in senate depend on whether Tsvangirai wins the run-off or not.

The MDC factions also agreed not less than two parliamentary committee chairpersons would be from the Mutambara group which would be fully represented in all parliamentary committees.

“Tsvangirai in exercising his prerogative to form a new government in Zimbabwe, and to make legislative appointments, undertakes and agrees to include some elected legislators and leaders from MDC (Mutambara) into his government,” it says.

The agreement says there would be two cabinet ministers from the MDC (Mutambara) and four deputy ministers assigned by Tsvangirai in main ministries “substantially involved in the transformation process”.

Tsvangirai, if he wins the run-off, would also appoint two senators from the Mutambara camp to facilitate the agreement. Tsvangirai will have powers to appoint five senators.

Mutambara’s group will also get not less than five ambassadors, two of which are in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development nations, which are well-developed, and one in a significant developing country.

Tsvangirai has offered to appoint one governor of the three Matabeleland provinces from the Mutambara formation.

“In the event of any vacancy arising in any of the positions for any reason whatsoever, including but not limited to death, dismissal, incapacity, resignation, promotion and/or demotion, Tsvangirai, as president, shall be required to appoint a replacement from nominees of MDC (Mutambara), within 30 days of such vacancy occurring,” the agreement says.

“The parties hereby agree that they will have an irrevocable right and option to re-unify the two parties.

The re-unification may take place within a period of 12 months from the effective date.”

By Dumisani Muleya

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