MDC-T leader ‘going nowhere’

WHILE some people in and out of the main opposition MDC-T are beginning to demand party leader, outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, must resign after 14 years at the helm and four consecutive electoral defeats since 2000, party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora says his boss is going nowhere despite sustaining a string of routs.

Brian Chitemba

Mwonzora said this week Tsvangirai would stay on as MDC-T leader as he is not yet finished and would focus on recovering from the latest setback to live to fight another day to reverse President-elect Robert Mugabe’s “stolen glory”, even if he is currently facing a barrage of criticism for participating in a flawed electoral process.

Tsvangirai polled 33,94% in the presidential elections compared to Mugabe’s 61,09%.

This was a massive decline after he defeated Mugabe by 43% to 47% in the first round of the 2008 presidential election. The MDC-T secured 49 seats while Zanu PF has 160 seats in the 210 contested parliamentary vote –– a huge drop compared to the party’s showing in 2008 when it defeated Zanu PF with a slight majority.

Mwonzora denied reports of a looming revolt against Tsvangirai, insisting MDC-T members continued to rally behind his boss because “everyone knows that he didn’t lose the elections”.

“We are not fazed by the theft of the elections,” said Mwonzora. “The MDC-T and Tsvangirai are not finished; we are there to stay.”

He described the just-ended elections as a “monumental fraud” which the MDC-T would challenge in court, while the party leadership will embark on a diplomatic offensive to lobby Sadc and the African Union (AU) to conduct a forensic audit of the polls.

“We are regrouping and reorganising as a party whose leadership has remained strong. We are looking ahead,” he said. “We are even re-strategising as part of preparations for the next elections, but in the meantime we are preparing to launch an election court fight.”

There has been growing criticism of Tsvangirai’s leadership and political strategies with some observers saying he displayed a weak personality in dealing with a ruthless autocrat like Mugabe, and hence he should step down as MDC-T leader.

The MDC parties have accused Zanu PF of manipulating the electoral processes to steal the vote.

Sadc and the AU have described the elections as “free and peaceful”, but have steered clear on pronouncing on the “credibility or fairness” of the process.

The MDC led by outgoing Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube has also vowed to regroup and continue the fight to rid the country of dictatorship despite losing elections out-and-out.

The party said although it was still compiling a comprehensive report on the election outcome, it was disappointed because the polls did not favour it.

MDC spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube said his party had proved to those who undermined it that it had supporters as its losing candidates managed to get votes running into thousands.

The party will only be represented in parliament courtesy of the four seats it secured under the proportional representation system after failing to win a single of the contested seats.

Dube said the MDC was now focusing on building its structures to emerge as a strong party in the next elections due in 2018. “We will make a deeper assessment of the elections once we have received all reports from provinces so that we don’t speak out of emotions. We are the most consistent party in terms of values and principles and that will stir us to greater heights as a party,” said Dube.

He also said Ncube’s political career has not been wrecked by last week’s elections outcome because he would now progress with more vigour considering that he is a “rare politician” who does not grandstand and promise the nation things that are not achievable. Ncube got a paltry 2,68% of the vote.

Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader Simba Makoni also dismissed the elections as a “fraud”. He said his party would also regroup to ensure it contests in the next polls. Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa declined to discuss the matter saying his party was due to make a public statement. “We don’t want to pre-empt what we are going to say because we will issue a statement soon,” he said.

Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara could not be reached for comment as his mobile was switched off.