Tsvangirai vows to resist Mugabe poll push
By Fanuel Jongwe (AFP)
HARARE — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai vowed Friday to resist a push by President Robert Mugabe to hold new elections this year. “Only after the necessary reforms have been implemented will the president and I agree on the date of elections,” Tsvangirai told a press conference.
“I will not agree to elections without the reforms. The way forward is a free and fair election, but only predicated by a process which includes a new constitution and the implementation of those reforms that will result in a credible poll.
“Anything else would be a circus. The lesson of 2008 is that Zimbabwe cannot afford anything other than a credible poll.” The statement came after Mugabe insisted elections would be held this year with or without a new constitution, which was agreed in his power-sharing deal with Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai and Mugabe formed a power-sharing government in 2009 to mend an inflation-ravaged economy and avoid a political melt-down after a bloody presidential run-off election that left more than 200 Tsvangirai supporters dead.
Frequent haggling has stalled the work of the unity government. “We have failed in many respects as a government mainly because ours is a difficult coalition where there is no shared vision and no shared values,” Tsvangirai said.
“This government is a painful story of frustration due to mixed messages from what is supposed to be the same team,” he said, denouncing ongoing political attacks and arbitrary arrests — often targeting his supporters.
Tsvangirai and Mugabe agreed to a raft of reforms including amending electoral and media laws and drafting a new constitution to pave the way to fresh polls. But work on the new charter has run in fits and starts, hindered by attacks on public outreach meetings by supporters of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.
Tsvangirai accused Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party of stalling the reforms but said he would not be pushed out of the shaky power-sharing government.
“ZANU-PF is stalling the election because most of the reforms reside in their ministries,” he said. “If these are implemented tomorrow, we can go to an election any time.”
Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, has already been endorsed as his party’s candidate in the polls. He said in an interview to mark his 88th birthday on Tuesday that he has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Mugabe has repeatedly pushed for elections this year, but the constitution-drafting commission says a referendum on the charter could not be held before August — meaning elections are unlikely this year.
Meanwhile Tsvangirai told journalist’s ”I am not in this position by accident. I won an election and I defeated the President in that poll. I have a Constitutional responsibility to execute and Zimbabwe is better served if as leaders we stick, respect and adhere to the Constitution.”