via Tsvangirai reveals all – DailyNews Live 7 July 2014 by Gift Phiri
HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says the MDC made a huge error by contesting in the 2013 elections when it was clear there was going to be large-scale electoral rigging.
President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party won the elections with a massive majority but the MDC maintained that the elections were stolen.
Tsvangirai said signs that the poll was going to be rigged were obvious and evident but they still participated in the mistaken belief that their millions of supporters would easily overcome any manipulation.
This is revealed in a document by Tsvangirai named Personal Reflections obtained exclusively by the Daily News yesterday. The document is set to be released today.
Tsvangirai said the MDC thought the bumper crowds at his rallies held prior to the vote would overwhelm the planned electoral mischief. He admitted that his party failed to address flaws in the voter register.
The remarks are seen stepping up the beleaguered opposition leader’s campaign against an election that he insists was rigged by the cunning political veteran’s ruling party as his 15-year-old movement hurtles towards a crucial elective congress amid internal wrangling led by his former ally Tendai Biti.
Electoral watchdogs have said the disenfranchisement of Zimbabweans in the July 31 vote was embedded in many facets of the election — from the equipment used to the actions of key local election officials, to the politically-motivated manipulation of the voters’ roll, to the knowing passivity of Morgan Tsvangirai himself.
Tsvangirai said he took the voters’ roll query to Mugabe, who reportedly passed the buck to wily long-serving Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede.
“I remember my meeting with president Mugabe on the eve of the election, a meeting facilitated by former Nigeria president Olusegun Obasanjo at which I tabled a copy of a couple of pages of the shambolic voters’ roll that was to be used in the elections the following day,” Tsvangirai said in the statement.
“Mugabe’s response was – ‘Ivo vanaMudede vanombozvifambisa sei? (How is the Registrar-General Mr Mudede doing his work?).’ He said this as he retracted into his chair, feigning ignorance of what was about to happen. Despite our much-concerted efforts to get the electronic voters’ roll on time and not getting it, we eventually participated in the elections without the said voters’ roll. As we in the MDC have said, we had assumed that our sheer numbers were going to overwhelm the rigging plot.
With the benefit of hindsight, we were wrong! As the results of the elections became clear to our people on the ground, the nation had once again been shortchanged in yet another electoral fraud.”
Complacency was to blame for the defeat, and surprise at the outcome of the 2013 election was more pronounced because of the confidence of the MDC that it would be returned to power.
After the poll last year, there was little sign of any celebration or violence, reflecting a desire by Zimbabweans to avoid a repeat of the bloodshed that badly damaged the economy, when Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a 2008 presidential vote.
Tsvangirai’s remarks are expected to bring some cheer to a movement divided over strategy and smarting from repeated cheating in national elections.
Tsvangirai noted that the Cross Over rally held in Harare on the eve of the election was what deluded him into thinking that the sheer numbers at his rallies would ensure the president would be booted out of office.
“The lasting image of the last election that has remained largely ingrained in my mind is of the mammoth crowd that gathered in Harare on what we dubbed the Cross Over rally on July 29, 2013,” Tsvangirai said.
“It is an indelible image of a nation that was geared for change, a determined people on the brink of crossing over to a new country with new opportunities under a new and competent dispensation.”
Tsvangirai admitted that he was shockingly wrong regarding the scale of what he called the planned electoral theft, and said it was impossible for a Zimbabwean electorate to allow a president presiding over three-and-half decades of obviously weak economic growth, horrific jobless levels and general dismay at future prospects to remain in office.
The new Zanu PF government faces a host of challenges, mainly struggling to manage public expectations having been elected with a mandate to improve the welfare of farmers and ordinary people. The ruling party is finding it hard to provide immediate benefits to a restive electorate.
“Now it has been 11 months since the election on 31 July 2013 and the swearing in of the current government of Zimbabwe; but the situation in the country is dispiriting,” Tsvangirai said.
He said the question on everybody’s mind was how so much pain, despair and desperation could immediately follow what the ruling party has called a “resounding victory” that gave them an overwhelming mandate. Many Zimbabweans say they are frustrated with economic hardships including scarcity of liquidity on the market and deflation.
In recent weeks, Tsvangirai has crisscrossed the country and held rallies to push the government and change how it is managed.
“Starting on 3rd September 2013, I began a national conversation with the people of Zimbabwe. I have travelled across the length and breath of our nation, engaging in dialogue with people from all walks of life and holding rallies that attracted multitudes. In my visits to the various districts after the election, I have seen and witnessed the pain of Zimbabweans, the palpable despair amongst the people as they contemplated a future for themselves and their families under the Zanu PF regime. The ordinary people of this country are simply failing to cope with life in the current socio-economic circumstances that are upon us.”
Tsvangirai repeated his call for a national dialogue to save the economy, but previous such calls have been ignored by Zanu PF.
“Given our current economic paralysis, that national conversation to rescue the nation has become more urgent than ever before,” the 62-year-old former premier and trade unionist said.
“There is an urgent imperative for a national conversation of more players than just political parties. The important aspect is that our dialogue must this time be broadened to include the trade unions, the church, students, industry and other stakeholders.
“The broad spectrum of stakeholders in that important dialogue must discuss, find consensus and map the way forward on the current economic crisis, the endemic poverty across the length and breadth of the nation and the massive unemployment in the country.”
He denied clinging on to office, saying congress was the only platform to effect leadership change.
“We cannot be self-contradictory as to claim to be democrats when at the same time we want to remove elected leadership through a coup de tat,” he said in reference to the push led by former MDC treasurer-general Elton Mangoma and Biti for him to step down.
Tsvangirai said the MDC has learnt its lessons the hard way, but will ensure the party wins the presidency in subsequent elections.
“Lastly, despite all our shortcomings I believe, a sunrise is possible and the dawn must start within our well-meaning selves,” the MDC leader said.