OPPOSITION MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday scaled up the political stakes and declared that he would not concede defeat to President Robert Mugabe’s “fragmented” Zanu PF party in next year’s general elections.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU/NUNURAI JENA/NHAU MANGIRAZI
In his Workers’ Day speech at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)-organised commemorations at Dzivarasekwa Stadium in Harare, Tsvangirai said he would not accept an election result that does not confirm him as outright winner.
“We won’t agree on an outcome that is not my victory. Like [US President Donald] Trump, if I don’t win I will not concede. How does a fragmented minority win over a united majority now that we are all wiser than in 2013 because of the grinding poverty,” he said.
In 2013, Tsvangirai lost the presidential race to Mugabe, but disputed the results saying they had been manipulated by Israeli spy firm, Nikuv.
The MDC-T leader, who is widely tipped to stand as the opposition parties’ sole presidential candidate under the proposed grand coalition deal, told the 5 000-strong crowd that his party had identified and plugged most electoral holes likely to be used by Zanu PF to rig the upcoming elections.
“There is no option, but change in 2018 or the other option is that we die,” Tsvangirai added.
He urged the electorate to use next year’s ballot to change the country’s chief executive officer, whom he accused of failing to deliver dividends to shareholders after 37 years of Zanu PF misrule.
Tsvangirai said parties affiliated to the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) would not relent on their demands for electoral reforms to safeguard the election process and results and avoid a repeat of the 2013 polls whose outcome was reportedly “cooked up” by Nikuv.
“He (Mugabe) wants to cheat. He thinks he can get away with cheating to victory. As Nera, we know what you (Mugabe) are doing and want to repeat what you did in 2013, but this time around it won’t be successful,” Tsvangirai vowed.
On Saturday, Tsvangira’s deputy, Thokozani Khupe, made similar remarks while addressing party supporters in Slough, United Kingdom.
Khupe told party faithfuls that the MDC-T was poised for victory in next year’s elections, insisting that Mugabe would not be allowed to defy the electorate again as he did in 2008 and 2013.
“If he [Mugabe] refuses to go we have plan B. I can’t divulge the details because I don’t know who is here, but I can assure you that Mugabe will not steal the vote again,” she said.
ZCTU president Peter Mutasa, who was one of the main speakers at the Dzivarasekwa commemorations, endorsed Tsvangirai as the opposition parties’ 2018 sole candidate against Mugabe.
“We will back Tsvangirai, a proven labour leader and unlike Mugabe we know he will handover power. What we are not aware of is whether he will hand over to me or [MDC-T vice-president Nelson] Chamisa,” Mutasa said.
The trade unionist said labour has always been political since the 1940’s and had no apologies for making political pronouncements.
“We are tracing back to the days of [Benjamin] Burombo and [Joshua] Nkomo when, as unionists, they led strikes and demonstrations against the minority colonial regime. They fought for land, free education and free health, but today that is still a mirage,” Mutasa said.
The commemorations were attended by 34 unions affiliated to ZCTU, civil society organisations and opposition political parties after they boycotted the government-organised Workers’ Day commemorations held in Chinhoyi, saying they could not afford to “dine with the devil” at a time the majority of workers were languishing in State-sponsored poverty.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe accused Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander of “selling out the workers’ struggle” by attending the government-led commemorations.
“Any workers’ representative organisation worth its salt cannot be happy to be invited to its wedding like what Apex Council did by being invited by government instead of the other way,” he said.
But, Alexander defended her decision, describing government as “a better devil”.
“Yes, the unions are divided and the government saw it fit to organise the commemorations to avoid a flop of the celebrations this year. Because of the divisions, we could have easily failed to commemorate today, so the government is a better devil than to celebrate differently… ZCTU was invited, but decided otherwise,” she said.
In her address to the largely passive crowd believed to have been bussed in from Karoi and Kariba, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Priscah Mupfumira urged employers and employees to co-operate with the government for nation building.