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Not yet Uhuru, Tsvangirai says

By Blessings Mashaya

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has challenged President Robert Mugabe to stop his warring ruling Zanu PF’s mindless bloodletting and instead focus on giving long-suffering Zimbabweans “real freedom” and a better life.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai

In addition, Tsvangirai also reiterated in his independence message yesterday his recent assurance to the nonagenarian and fearful security chiefs that he would not seek retribution against them if the MDC sweeps next year’s eagerly-anticipated national polls.

At the same time, former vice president and now National People’s Party (NPP) leader, Joice Mujuru, has described the country’s nearly four decades of independence under Mugabe and Zanu PF as “37 years of slavery and misery to Zimbabweans”.

“As we brace for next year’s watershed election, I urge Zimbabweans to unite and put the country first.

“I urge Zimbabweans of all shades and political affiliation to prioritise Zimbabwe and to put the collective national interest above everything else.

“Whether Zanu PF or MDC, or any other political party for that matter, every Zimbabwean must ask themselves whether we really deserve this suffering in a country for which so many paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Tsvangirai said in his message.

“Let us put aside all our differences, harness our diversity and vote for the man or woman who will shepherd this country to the greatness it deserves, a leader who values our nationhood and collective dignity more than the colour of our party cards.

“We have seen how those in the seat of government have taught us to hate and kill each other and not to harness our differences for the greater national good,” he added.

“Fellow Zimbabweans, let us use the opportunity next year to poise our country for growth, inclusion, unity and development. There has been so much hatred in the past, needless hatred that in 2008 cost us a glorious opportunity to move forward.

“Indeed, and as I have said before, none of us have any reason to fear the change that is now imminent upon this our beloved country in 2018.

“That change will be good for everyone. The benefits of that change will not be selective. That positive change will seek no retribution against anyone but will only spur us to live in harmony as Zimbabweans regardless of our ethnic and political diversity,” Tsvangirai said.

This comes as Zanu PF has been accused of stalling the implementation of a raft of much-needed electoral reforms ahead of next year’s polls.

This has seen opposition parties coalescing under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) agitating for sweeping reforms that include the disbandment of the current Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) secretariat which they accuse of being a Zanu PF appendage.

Nera parties are also at odds with the government over its hijacking of the acquisition of biometric voter registration (BVR) kits, which they say could lead to a manipulated election next year.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe hands down in the 2008 presidential election, which saw results being withheld for a suspiciously long six weeks, amid widespread allegations of ballot fiddling and manipulation.

When the widely discredited results of that poll were eventually announced, Tsvangirai was forced into a presidential run-off which he pulled out of following deadly violence against his supporters, hundreds of whom were murdered in cold blood.

Mugabe would go on to stand in a widely condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner.

However, Sadc and the rest of the international community would not accept the poll, forcing the nonagenarian to share power with Tsvangirai for five years, to prevent the country from imploding completely.

Former State Security minister and one of the founders of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), Didymus Mutasa — who was for decades a close confidante of Mugabe — later lifted the lid on that election’s rot, following his sacking from Zanu PF.

He revealed that the nonagenarian had only managed to remain in power at the time through chicanery and brute force.

Yesterday Tsvangirai, who said he was looking to the future with optimism, also paid tribute to disaffected war veterans, who have been feuding with Mugabe since mid last year.

“True independence should translate into abundant opportunities and real freedom for the people, so that the day gains its true worth to the country’s citizenry.

“I want to take advantage of this day to salute all war veterans, dead or alive, and say I and the party I lead will forever cherish what they did for this country.

“I want to promise that the new government we will create in 2018 will accord our war veterans their due respect and meet their deserved welfare requirements as we said they should get in the Constitution that we made ourselves as a people,” the dogged former labour union leader said.

“Let us not allow the privatisation of this great day in a manner that diminishes its true worth. Let us not allow the stripping of our dignity by this uncaring Zanu PF regime and the abandonment of the cause for which so many died.

“Indeed, we must always cherish the heroism of the people of this land and the brutal struggle we waged to reclaim our rights, particularly the right to vote,” he added.

On her part, Mujuru said the mooted grand opposition coalition was the only way of extricating the country from its economic problems.

“As NPP, we believe that what ought to be 37 years of independence has been turned into 37 years of slavery and misery to Zimbabweans.

“We believe we have capacity as Zimbabweans to extricate ourselves out of the social, economic and political mess we find ourselves in as a result of Zanu PF’s failed government.

“It is time that all progressive forces within the rank and file of opposition parties put their differences aside and face the failed Zanu PF government as a united front by every constitutional means necessary come 2018.

“Our people never went to war so that the destiny of our country can be turned into political dynasties.

“Zimbabweans deserve to be free and that freedom has to be exercised now. To that end, as NPP we urge all the progressive forces within the rank and file of the opposition parties of this country to go back to the basics of the revolutionary ideals of oneness.

“It is our belief as NPP that what divides us as opposition political parties are smaller than what binds us as a country. Our motto should therefore be united we stand, divided we fall,” she said.

Tsvangirai and Mujuru have been working with other opposition parties behind the scenes to finalise the mooted grand opposition coalition.

At the same time, analysts have said that a united opposition, fighting with one purpose, can finally bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule, especially at a time that the nonagenarian is fighting to keep together his warring Zanu PF.

They have also consistently said Mujuru, whose liberation struggle nom de guerre was Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood), and whose late husband Solomon was the first black post-independence army commander, could provide the much-needed bridge that opposition parties have been missing to ensure the smooth transfer of power if they win the 2018 elections like they did in 2008. Daily News