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SADC told Tsvangirai to withdraw

Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party took part in Zimbabwe’s elections against advice from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which urged him to withdraw from the polls. 

Tsvangirai press conference
Tsvangirai press conference

A high-level diplomatic source has told City Press that the SADC told Tsvangirai at a summit in Maputo in June not to take part in the elections.

“This was the only way the elections could be delayed so concerns about the reforms of the security sector could be addressed,” said a government aide with close knowledge of the meeting.

The claim was corroborated by a separate source, who was briefed about the meeting. But the second source said: “The MDC-T didn’t want to (pull out) because they were convinced that they would win the elections.”

On Tuesday night, just hours before voting started, Tsvangirai told a member of the SADC’s observer mission they were expecting more than 70% of the vote. The MDC-T has now called for fresh elections to be held in Zimbabwe “as soon as possible for people to freely elect a government of their choice”.

Addressing journalist at his official residence in Harare yesterday afternoon Tsvangirai said his party rejected the results of the elections.

Tsvangirai also confirmed rumours that he had been approached by the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) observers, who requested him to accept the results of the elections and move on.

“I will not legitimise the illegitimate, no, I will not do it. The people of Zimbabwe will not do it.”

Of the AU and SADC he said: “Those who would like to wash their hands on the issue can do so.”

The media briefing followed a national executive committee meeting of the party earlier in the day. The meeting, said Tsvangirai, resolved to reject the elections on the basis of:

» The flawed processes and the lack of reforms;

» The printing of an excessive number of ballots. About 8.7 million ballots were printed for about 6 million voters;

» The inaccessibility of the voters’ roll; and

» The number of voters who were assisted to vote.

He thanked the AU, SADC and other observers who took part in the elections.

“We will submit a dossier (to the AU and SADC) of all the irregular and illegal activities that went on during the elections.”

Tsvangirai, who was flanked by his wife and other MDC leaders, called for the investigation of the voters’ roll, voter registration slips and the printing of ballots, where they were printed and who printed them.

“We also call for the SADC to investigate the security sector and the militarisation of the election.”

He also complained that in rural areas people were intimidated by traditional leaders who coerced them to vote for Zanu-PF. The party will challenge the results in the courts, said Tsvangirai, adding that they don’t have faith in the country’s legal system.

“These courts were also appointed unconstitutionally. We will go to those courts, but we know how they have been compromised.”

The party, said Tsvangirai, will not cooperate with any institution formed by the government that will emerge after the elections. “We will not cooperate with any institution appointed as a result of this illegal election.”

Zanu-PF, he said, used its power to subvert the will of the people. No one in his/her right mind would accept the elections as being legitimate and credible, he said, adding that the party would stay away from violence. “If it was another country, people would be burning buildings by now.”

He ruled out another government of national unity. “The election has been subverted. There is no movement. This has plunged us into a crisis and we have to resolve it. We won’t go into a government of national unity and sanitise an illegal election”. City Press

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