‘Only Tsvangirai can defeat Mugabe’

One of the country’s leading political scientists, Professor John Makumbe, has said that MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and not any other political party, can defeat President Robert Mugabe in the next elections.

Makumbe described the presidential elections as a “two-horse race” between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai, although other parties’ leaders’ names had been thrown into the election ring.

MDC-M president Arthur Mutambara, Simba Makoni of the Mavambo/Dawn/Khusile party, and Dumiso Dabengwa, the Zapu leader, are other contenders for the country’s top political hot seat.

Speaking at an election reporting workshop organised by Radio Voice of the People in Harare, Makumbe said the polarisation existing in the country made the battle that of President Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

“It is Tsvangirai alone who can overthrow Mugabe, there is no middle ground. People will vote MDC-T not necessarily because they want Tsvangirai, but because they want Zanu PF out.

“Polarisation existing in the country makes the elections a two-horse race,” said Makumbe.

He said although there were other political parties which mushroomed a few years ago and would contest the elections, their formation was ill-timed.

Makoni, a former Zanu PF minister, broke away to form Mavambo ahead of the 2008 harmonised elections, while Dabengwa defected at around the same time.

“At the moment, people are not looking for a political party, they are trying to get rid of a political party which is Zanu PF,” Makumbe said.

He said if elections were ridden with violence and Tsvangirai pulled out, that would leave President Mugabe with a legitimacy crisis that would again lead to the formation of another GNU.

“If (President) Mugabe runs the elections with other smaller parties in the event that Tsvangirai pulls out, he will not be recognised. It is either he runs the elections with Tsvangirai, or he will suffer a legitimacy crisis.”

Makumbe however said the country was not ready for elections.

“Zimbabwe will never be ready for elections. The political environment is worse rather than better. There should be a level of political understanding which is non-existent; national healing failed to take off, institutions need to be de-militarised, among other prerequisites.

Zimbabwe Media Commission member Mathew Takaona also expressed concern over the prospects of a violent poll next year.

“Many Zimbabweans are resisting the elections because of the violence that usually accompanies elections in Zimbabwe. As an individual, I am also against the elections,” said Takaona.

He urged the media to play a role to ensure peaceful elections if they were to go ahead. – NewsDay