THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC has changed its campaign strategy for the June 27 presidential election run-off after the police banned its rallies. The party has now adopted walkabouts to drum up support.
Police at the weekend banned the MDC rallies in Victoria Falls and Hwange, which threatens to
paralyse Tsvangiraiâ€™s campaign three weeks before the crucial poll. Tsvangirai is yet to hold a rally since his return a fortnight ago from self-imposed exile in Botswana and South Africa.
This week Tsvangirai took his campaign to the streets of Bulawayo and Matabeleland South province, but his lobbying for support in Matabeleland North hit a snag on Wednesday when he was detained by police for allegedly “attracting a large crowd of people”.
He was detained for over 11 hours before being released after he was reportedly forced to sign a warned-and-cautioned statement at Lupane Police Station.
The MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said the arrest and detention of Tsvangirai was part of
Zanu PF strategy to ensure that the opposition party did not get an opportunity to campaign ahead of the run-off.
“This is part of a Zanu PF strategy to ensure that the MDC does not get a chance to campaign, but we are saying no amount of dirty tricks will stop an MDC victory on June 27,” Chamisa said.
On Monday, Tsvangirai accompanied by his campaign team visited townships in Bulawayo to urge people to go out and vote.
He visited townships such as Makokoba, Nkulumane, Pelandaba, Luveve, Magwegwe and parts of the central business district where excited crowds mobbed him.
“Please just go and vote in large numbers on June 27,” he told supporters in the CBD.
At the Nkulumane mall, Tsvangirai was welcomed with chants of “Welcome President, Welcome President” by the crowd.
Tsvangirai was accompanied on the visit, which the MDC dubbed the “Meet the People Tour”, by his deputy Thokozani Khupe, party chairman Lovemore Moyo and all newly-elected MDC MP and senators for Bulawayo province.
However, the tour also saw residents telling Tsvangirai their views on the prevailing crisis in the country.
“We are hungry my son, please make sure you take us out of this misery,” an elderly woman at Chigumira Shopping Centre in Luveve appealed. “Our stomachs are empty, they have nothing and we know you are our only salvation.”
Khupe said the tour was part of the MDC victory celebrations and said Tsvangirai was meeting the electorate urging them to vote out Mugabe.
“The main reason for the walkabouts is for president Tsvangirai to meet the people and the tours will be conducted countrywide as we garner for support ahead of the presidential election run-off on June 27,” Khupe said.
Yesterday, Tsvangiraiâ€™s campaign was in rural Matabeleland South.
By Loughty Dube