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MDC Turns 9, Says Has Key To Resources

MKOBA Stadium in Gweru was on Sunday turned into a sea of red, black and white colours as MDC celebrated its ninth anniversary with leader Morgan Tsvangirai vowing to “deliver freedom” to Zimbabwe by unshackling it from President Robert Mugabe’s chains of “misrule”.

The 15 000-plus party supporters, who braved the spring sun, waved placards, most of them hailing Tsvangirai’s courage in tackling Mugabe, a former guerilla leader who has been in power since 1980.
“Morgan is more”, “Your Excellency, President Tsvangirai” and “Morgan ndizvo”, read some of the placards.
Apart from the placards, the party’s supporters and the leadership donned MDC regalia and intermittently broke into song and dance, poking funny at Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Among the leadership were national chairman Lovemore Matombo, deputy president Thokhozani Khupe, secretary-general Tendai Biti, deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma, national organising secretary Ellias Mudzuri and spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.
As time ticked away before Tsvangirai took to the podium, the supporters became weary and instead of chanting the party slogans started complaining of hunger.
The supporters drowned the voice of Mudzuri who tried in vain to calm them, but normalcy returned when Chamisa took to the podium and started ridiculing Zanu PF and government departments.
Chamisa said: “I am happy that we have members of the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) here today. We welcome their presence at this celebration. One thing that they are also realising is that the direction in which the wind is blowing has since changed.
“The people of Zimbabwe want change and they want it now. Let us hope that the CIO guys who are here will go back and report what they saw here and not exaggerate the details and sentiments passed by the people of Zimbabwe.”
Biti, clad in flowing robes normally worn by West Africans, told the supporters that the MDC was demanding power-transfer from Mugabe to Tsvangirai in the Sadc-initiated negotiations being facilitated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
“The MDC is advocating power-transfer as compared to the proposal for a transitional government. We have negotiated on a lot of things but I would like to point out that the principle of democracy is a non-negotiable principle,” Biti said amid clapping and ululation.
“The people of Zimbabwe spoke on March 29 and clearly stated that you were giving us the mandate to provide food, jobs, and many other things. You also gave us the authority and we will not let go of that which you gave us when you went and voted on March 29.”
He added that the crisis in the country was a result of a defective constitution that gives the president “too much” power.
“This constitution makes it a monarch to be a president. It gives the president excessive powers and we are saying it is an imperialistic constitution that needs to be overhauled,” said Biti. After Biti’s curtain-raiser, Tsvangirai was given the floor and was quick to say he would not sign an inclusive deal that does not recognise the “will of the people”.
Tsvangirai said the MDC had survived the past nine years despite several attempts by Zanu PF to destroy it.
“We are where we are today because of the resoluteness that Zimbabweans have shown in the fight against the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF members,” he said. “It is unprecedented in the history of Zimbabwe that a party survives infiltration and destruction and manages to survive for nine years.”
The former Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president said the MDC had scored a number of successes, among them transforming from an opposition “to become the ruling party”.
“We are now able to set the agenda for the full freedom of the people of Zimbabwe. We said it in 1999 and 2000 that we will bring Zanu PF to the negotiating table and they thought we were joking. Where is Mugabe today?” Tsvangirai questioned.
The MDC leader said there was only one solution to the Zimbabwe crisis — dialogue — but insisted he would not sign a “bad deal” with Mugabe and the president of the smaller faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara.
“Tsvangirai’s signature belongs to the people of Zimbabwe. I cannot betray you by signing a deal that is not reflective of what you want. I am not blind to differentiate between a good and a bad deal,” Tsvangirai said. “On March 29, you declared that you wanted change and not cosmetic change. We are going to deliver that change to you.”
He criticised Mugabe for having opted to give him a prime ministerial post in which he did not have powers to hire and fire cabinet ministers.
“You cannot mess yourself and ask me to clean you up and then you want to dismiss me afterwards. In the same vein, if Mugabe wants me to clean up the mess, then he has to give me the power,” Tsvangirai told ecstatic supporters. “We have the keys to the resources. We have the people on our side, and time is also on our side. If he (Mugabe) does not want to cede power, he should stay there and we see where it will take us.”

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