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I will beat Mugabe: Tsvangirai

MDC-T leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he is ready for the battle royale and insists he will beat President Robert Mugabe in next Wednesday’s presidential election despite his strong protests about chaotic poll preparations.

In an exclusive interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, Tsvangirai said he plans to knock out Mugabe in the first round of polling. “I have no doubt that Mugabe will be beaten in the first round. You can judge by the mood and popular demands for change,” he said. “We don’t need a second round.

With the momentum on the ground, to budget for the second round is not an option.” Independent reporter Elias Mambo (EM) interviewed Tsvangirai (MT) on Wednesday in Harare ahead of the do-or-die elections. Find below excerpts of the interview:

EM: You have been on the campaign trail and with a week to go before elections are you happy?
MT: I am very happy with the way our campaigns rolled out. I have been involved and we have been so effective on the ground. We are happy with the momentum that has been built and we are now ready for elections.

EM: From trends you have observed, what do you foresee as the outcome of the polls ?
MT: There is an overwhelming feeling on the ground for change. People want change of governance; people want change of ideas. There has been despair, poverty and fear, now people are ready for something new.

EM: Will the MDC beat Zanu PF like it did in 2008?
MT: Anything short of MDC victory will not only be a subversion of the people’s will and mandate. It will set this country backward. I defeated Mugabe in 2008 in the first round. The second round was manipulated so the results did not reflect the will of the people.

EM: And will this election be decided in the first round?
MT: I have no doubt Mugabe will be beaten in the first round. You can judge by the mood and demand for change. We don’t need a second round. With the momentum on the ground, to budget for the second round is unnecessary. It is not an option.

EM: You have been complaining about poor electoral preparations. Do you think the elections will be free and fair?
MT: It was our hope Zec would behave differently election unfortunately as it has come out we now believe there is a third hand trying to manipulate Zec’s integrity to subvert the will and mandate of the people. Look at the chaos around the special vote fiasco. Zec failed to handle only 70 000 people; what about the day when six million people will come to vote? Harare’s polling stations have been reduced yet the voters have increased. There is a problem with accreditation of international observers and the media. We are also worried about the printing of more ballot papers than the number of voters. All these issues raise suspicions.

EM: If elections are disputed where to for Zimbabwe?
MT: Zimbabwe will be worse off. That is why we want to restore legitimacy and allow our country to fully recover. We don’t want another flawed and disputed election.

EM: If you win, how will you treat Mugabe and his loyalists?
MT: We have no intention of retribution. We know what we have gone through, but the old man needs a dignified exit. This applies across the board, even to those who defended Zanu PF will be forgiven, but those who must account for plunder of national resources would be brought to book.

EM: If you win, what will you do to change the state of the nation?
MT: We have a clear plan on the turnaround of the economy. We have a manifesto which outlines how we are going to turn around the economy. But firstly, governance issues will be a very important focus. We will change the political culture. People should not be ruled by fear. We will attract new investments to grow the economy. There is need to create new wealth. We also need to transform our relations with the international community. The world has become a global village and we want to be part of that.

EM: Given that the political field is uneven and Mugabe has ignored issues agreed on in the Global Political Agreement, election roadmap and Sadc resolutions, are you going to accept the results if Mugabe wins?
MT: This election is already disputed even before the results are announced. It does not matter who wins but we want a credible, free and fair elections. Anything short of the MDC victory will be the subversion of the will and mandate of the people.

EM: Efforts to form a grand coalition failed in the run-up to elections. Will that affect the outcome of the polls?
MT: It will not affect the outcome. It was not wrong to have a grand coalition and that was our wish but others thought otherwise.

EM: With hindsight do you think you should have been involved in the inclusive government since it appears to have revived Mugabe?
MT: The GNU (government of national unity) did not revive Mugabe. People know how the MDCs have brought changes in this country, mainly on the economy. The best judges are the people.

EM: Have you ever thought about the fact that you may end up failing to be president of Zimbabwe even if millions support you?
MT: Failing to be president because people have not supported you is different from failing because the people’s will has been subverted. If the elections are free and fair, no one with the support of the people can fail to be president.

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