Victory for Tsvangirai is ‘certain’

Zimbabwean immigrants staying in South Africa have been urged to return home and vote in the Saturday referendum on a proposed new constitution for the country.

MDC-T secretary-general and Finance minister Tendai Biti told a media briefing in Pretoria that arriving at the phase of voting for a potential new constitution was “a miracle”.

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Biti said the new charter will guarantee a free and fair election in Zimbabwe later this year, which he was certain his party leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will win.

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“I am a constitutional lawyer myself, those who have read it (the new constitution) will agree with me that it can hold its own against the best in the world, including the South African constitution which is one of the finest,” he said.

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“We hope that Zimbabweans are going to come in their numbers on March 16 to vote for this very important document.
“It was not easy arriving at this constitution and I hope that the miracle will reach fruition by a successful referendum on March 16.”
Biti said he was confident the MDC would win the next elections, set to be held this year after the new constitution is adopted through the referendum processes.

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“When we go to a credible election, the MDC will win and Morgan Tsvangirai will be the next president of Zimbabwe,” he said.

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“The MDC is a people’s project, it’s not a political party which was formed in an air-conditioned hotel . . . the people will protect their project,” he said.

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Biti said the MDC was proud of its contribution in the coalition government.

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President Robert Mugabe and arch-rival Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government after a highly disputed election in 2008, and agreed to hold fresh polls only after adopting a new constitution.

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“When I became Finance minister inflation was 500 billion% which has never happened (elsewhere) in the world,” he said. “People were dying of cholera and typhoid — 4 000 people every week. We have now achieved macro-economic stability, inflation has now been below 4%.”

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The coalition government helped mend the economy and avoid a tip into fully-fledged conflict in the aftermath of violent elections in 2008.
The minister said the 2013 polls will be a watershed moment in the history of Zimbabwe.

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“The 2013 election is without a doubt the most important election after the 1980 election (which ended years of British colonial rule) in our country. It’s a make or break election for the average Zimbabwean.

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“This election will either stop the crisis and bring a legitimate, sustainable outcome or will further exacerbate the crisis so the four years we have spent in the inclusive government would have been a waste of time,” he said.

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Biti said there was no transparency about the revenue flowing from the export of diamonds from Zimbabwean mines.

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“Just last year diamond exports were $800 million and what only came to the Treasury was $45 million which is about 10% of the total,” said Biti.

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Biti, a firebrand critic of Mugabe, expressed gratitude to the people of South Africa and the region for consistent efforts to bring peace and stability to the land-locked nation.

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He said for the upcoming election, Zimbabwe needs to invite “an army of observers” to monitor the polls.

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“We feel that as a country we should have nothing to hide. Whether you are coming from Timbuktu or Beijing, you should be allowed to come and observe,” said Biti.

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A number of poll surveys conducted last year showed Zanu PF regaining support but analysts have warned that they could be misleading.