News and Information

Mdc Will Win Poll Vows Tsvangirai
February 14, 2005

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

Posted to the web February 14, 2005

Foster Dongozi

Party election campaign and manifesto to be launched in Masvingo next Sunday.

THE Movement for Democratic Change will next Sunday launch its campaign and manifesto for the March general elections at Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo where all the 120 candidates and thousands of the party's supporters are expected to converge, the party's president, Morgan Tsvangirai, has said.

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Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Standard at his Harare home on Friday, an exuberant and confident Tsvangirai said his party was geared to romp home to victory despite the uneven electoral playing-field and wanton flouting of the SADC electoral guidelines by Zimbabwean authorities.

The MDC would have the majority seats in Parliament after the elections, Tsvangirai declared, adding: "We will have the last laugh."

He said the MDC was now better placed to win the elections as it had become more organised than it was in 2000 when it lost narrowly to the ruling Zanu PF. The MDC leader said he was confident this time around, his party would win a large number of rural seats.

"For the 2000 elections we did not have any structures in place. We have now put in place structures throughout the country including in rural areas where we have established village committees in every village," he said.

The opposition leader conceded, however, conditions for the 2005 elections would be even tougher than they were during the 2 000 elections. He said: "During the last elections, there was no Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, (AIPPA) the Public Order and Security Act, (POSA) and there were no militias and Green Bombers.

"Prevailing conditions make this election even more difficult and the electoral field even more uneven than the last time but despite all the obstacles being put in our way by Zanu PF, we will win," vowed the veteran trade unionist with alacrity.

Tsvangirai said despite the widespread perception that the MDC had failed to make inroads into the rural areas, the opposite was true. "The tragedy is that we are operating in an abnormal environment. That perception has continued to grow because of the closure of some media organisations which would have been prepared to report on the MDC's activities on a daily basis. The public media has also perpetuated that myth but our members know that we have gone into the trenches and the rural communities have welcomed the MDC with open arms."

Tsvangirai said over the past two years, he had been going into rural areas to mobilise the electorate and to set up constituency campaign teams. "Despite being subjected to state sponsored violence and terror, rural communities were resisting coercion to be held captive by the militia and Green Bombers.

"The enthusiasm for the MDC in rural areas is remarkable. The people in rural areas are saying they are tired of Zanu PF's misrule and will not give them free reign."

Asked to explain the growing perception that the MDC had lost steam compared to 2000, Tsvangirai said: "That is an untruth being spread by the Zanu PF propaganda machinery. Currently, Zanu PF is going through one of its biggest crisis following the suspension of its provincial chairpersons and arrest of its senior members. The ruling party wants to give the impression that the upheavals it is experiencing are non existent and that it is the MDC having in-fights."

On the reason for launching the campaign in Masvingo, Tsvangirai said: "There is no particular reason other than the fact that Masvingo, like any part of Zimbabwe, can host the launch of the MDC campaign. We actually had two choices for launching the campaign, Murehwa and Masvingo but it will be in Masvingo for logistical reasons because there is adequate accommodation facilities and a big stadium for the launch."

Masvingo, formerly referred to as a "Zanu PF one-party province" by the ruling party gave away Masvingo Central and Bikita West to the MDC in the 2000 Parliamentary elections, and the MDC is hoping to win over more voters during the launch. The opposition party hopes to capitalize on the disgruntlement among the Zanu PF rank and file after Masvingo was sidelined from Zanu PF's top positions in the presidium to woo more voters.

The MDC nearly pulled the rug from under the feet of Zanu PF when it snatched 57 seats from the ruling party in 2000 less than a year after its formation."In fact we had 37 seats stolen from us and we can safely say we won the 2000 elections, and that is why the courts have not even dealt with our challenges," Tsvangirai said.

He said after lying to Zimbabweans that the opposition was full of sell-outs, Zanu PF was struggling to regain its credibility after its senior officials were arrested for selling Zanu PF secrets to foreign powers. "Vatengesi vakazara muZanu PF. Vanotengesa nyika vanhu veZanu PF. (The sell-outs are in Zanu PF).

On the issue of the controversy that has dogged the Masvingo Central constituency, he said as party president, he had to intervene as four primary elections had failed to take off because of infighting.

"After verifying with our national and district offices in Masvingo, the electoral college voted in the primary elections and people came up with a candidate of their choice. As party president I have to come in if some activities threaten the existence of the party."

He said delays in holding primary elections in St Mary's had been created by the fact that two factions each had their own lists of eligible voters.

He said: "The process could only go ahead after our national organising office conducted a verification process and produced a list of district executives who were eligible to vote in the primaries and again, the people voted for their choice, which was Job Sikhala. There has never been any attempt on the part of the leadership to impose candidates."

Tsvangirai said out of fear and desperation, the Zanu PF regime was sponsoring factions within the MDC to create the impression that there was infighting.
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"Zanu PF is funding some elements to hold demonstrations against the MDC leadership to give the impression that we are having problems like themselves. It is also very unfortunate that a few of our members do not want to accept that in a democratic institution such as ours when the people vote you out of office, you should accept the outcome. Unfortunately, some newspapers are also getting involved in the conspiracy to misrepresent what is going on in the MDC," he said.

He said the MDC accepted divergent opinions from its members and not those sponsored by Zanu PF.


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