via Tsvangirai appeals to Mugabe – DailyNews Live by Gift Phiri 19 MARCH 2014
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says President Robert Mugabe’s government will buckle under the pressure of mounting economic woes, and a belief by many Zimbabweans that he stole the July 31 elections and must urgently open national dialogue to resolve the deepening crisis.
Tsvangirai is still disputing the election, which he lost to Mugabe by a wide margin. But as his fraud claims get nowhere, the former Prime Minister says other forces may sink the socialist leader and force him into national dialogue.
“The economic crisis is a symptom of the political crisis of legitimacy because that is the one that undermines the confidence in the economy,” Tsvangirai told the Daily News.
“You know, for the last five years, the economy was stabilised because of confidence in the economy due to political stability.
“Now, because if the crisis of legitimacy, as a result of a rigged election, already, it’s a crisis that has undermined economic confidence to the extent that all sectors have now been affected. There is a legitimacy crisis.
“If there is a political crisis you need national dialogue. You need national dialogue to resolve that national crisis. And in this case, Zanu PF must accept the responsibility that it must take the initiative to find a national consensus on the national crisis. Otherwise they are burying their head in the sand when they know the situation is not sustainable.”
Tsvangirai has abandoned his Constitutional Court challenge to Mugabe’s landslide victory in last year’s elections, saying he had been denied the polling evidence to prove his case, allowing the government to attack him as a sore loser.
Now he and other opposition leaders seem to be banking on a steady deterioration in Mugabe’s popularity and power.
One possibility hawked by Tsvangirai is for the ruling Zanu PF to acknowledge the intensity of the economic crisis hardly a year into Mugabe’s presidency, and open a “national dialogue” to fix the economic malaise.
He said he was not proposing another government of national unity.
“National dialogue, all I am putting as a premise is that the national dialogue must be a national dialogue of all stakeholders unlike the previous one which was an elite pact between two or three political parties,” he said.
“This time we need to expand to include churches, students, to include trade unions, to include other political parties because we are trying to find a national consensus as to the way forward. We cannot then define what that way forward is until that national dialogue is organised.”
The ruling Zanu PF has rejected talks with Tsvangirai, saying he misses the lucrative government perks.
Tsvangirai implored Mugabe, with whom he served as prime minister in a fractious coalition government since disputed and bloody elections in 2008, to swallow his pride and acknowledge the deepening economic crisis.
While Tsvangirai acknowledges that he does not have the leverage to force this dialogue given that the 90-year-old incumbent defeated him by 61 percent to 34, he said the leverage will come as the national crisis deepens and people search for solutions.
Some opponents, though, say Zimbabwe’s economic problems — slowing growth, deflation, and hard currency bottlenecks — may prove too much for Mugabe even forcing him to accede to national dialogue.
Tsvangirai said Zanu PF’s apparent failure to deliver on its election promises was another factor to watch.
“How then do you say I am the legitimate party in government when you cannot even solve one problem 10 months after the election?” Tsvangirai asked.
Opinion polls just before the July vote had shown Tsvangirai in a statistical dead heat with Mugabe.
Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF says the post-election dispute has laid bare Tsvangirai’s desperation, and officials vilify the opposition leader daily as a desperate man fighting a mounting internal rebellion.
Speaking during a luncheon to celebrate his belated 90th birthday organised by the Public Service Commission, Mugabe said his electoral victory had devastated the opposition, which has suspended a senior official who had asked Tsvangirai to step down in a move which has widened cleavages in a party recovering from a crushing election defeat last year.
“I want to thank you for that historic act,” Mugabe said last week. “It mesmerised not just masahwira edu ataimwa tea nawo (colleagues we were close to), it disorganised them as you can see, takuvanzwira tsitsi (we feel sorry for them),” Mugabe said in a mocking tone.
In a reprise of the frequent spats between the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition MDC, the ruling party says Tsvangirai was facing a rebellion after going back on his pledge to step down after losing the third presidential election to Mugabe.
MDC deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma has raised the ire of Tsvangirai’s supporters by penning a damning letter in January asking the opposition leader to resign, arguing that he had dismally failed to effect reforms while in the four-year power-sharing government with Mugabe.
Tsvangirai, who campaigned on a platform of introducing a mix of free-market policies and strong welfare protection, yesterday mocked Mangoma’s plethora of accusations.
“A congress is the one that bestows the mandate on any leader,” Tsvangirai told the Daily News.
“I don’t subscribe to the notion that in asking for leadership renewal you are calling for hostile takeover or a coup as it were, through memos or letters.
“You go to a congress, you put yourself up as a candidate and the people have the right to choose. You can’t then say, Tsvangirai get away, step down, because we feel you should step down. No. Two-and-half years into my mandate, you can’t then demand and you say voluntary resignation.”
While disputing claims that he was going back on his pledge to step down if he loses the presidential vote, Tsvangirai said if he had lost the election openly and freely, he would have considered stepping down.
“I am not backtracking from anything,” he told the Daily News.
“All I am saying is that the last election was not free and fair. I did not lose the last election. I won it, it was rigged massively. So you cannot then say I should be answerable for an election that was not free and fair. So I am not backtracking from the philosophy, from the principle that losing a free and fair election, definitely I would have stepped down. But I did not lose.”
Tsvangirai took a relatively moderate line against Mugabe during last year’s presidential election campaign, but has been consistently aggressive since the vote.
He admitted that he regretted going into the polls unprepared.
“I think, on hindsight, one would have said that going into an election without a voters’ roll was suicidal, without the necessary reforms was suicidal,” Tsvangirai admitted.
“But the popular base and the momentum built during the campaign, I think overwhelmed us to the extent that I think people were so confident that whatever rigging would be overwhelmed by the numbers.”