Tsvangirai wants only presidential vote in 2011

HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wants Zimbabwe to hold presidential elections next year and defer the general poll to 2013 in a move that gives a new twist to the watershed plebiscite planned for next year.\r\n

Tsvangirai told journalists in Harare Thursday that his party’s supreme organ – the National Executive Council – resolved to have the party participate in the presidential election to address President Robert Mugabe’s “illegitimacy”.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the council (NEC) resolved that the next election should be solely for the disputed presidential election of 2008 with a harmonised election to be held in 2013 as prescribed by the constitution.

“Neither Zanu PF nor its President (Mugabe)  have the right of unilaterally calling for the aforesaid Presidential election and that article 23.1.b of the GPA and the 8th schedule of the constitution which requires agreement, should be respected,” said Tsvangirai.

The latest pronouncements by the MDC chief are seen as a sting in the tail of the Zimbabwe’s election story which no one knows how it is going to pan out.

Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai since making loud and consistent messages to their supporters about the elections next year, have not hinted that they could slug it out in the presidential poll only.

Tsvangirai’s remarks resonate with his allies in the labour movement – the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and legislators from the three main political parties in the inclusive government, who have silently been praying for deferment of the general poll.

In muted whispers, the Members of Parliament from both formations of the MDC and Zanu PF have complained of an ‘injustice” to their terms of office which, if harmonized elections are held next year, would cut short their stay in parliament.

Pursuant to his calls for the presidential elections only, Tsvangirai wants SADC to urgently reconvene the aborted summit of the Organ and Defence summit to discuss outstanding issues, the roadmap of elections and address violence and deployment of security agents in the rural areas.

SADC, said Tsvangirai, must push for the creation of conditions that promote a free and fair poll, proper monitoring and policing of the election, including the presence of monitors six months before and after the plebiscite.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe on March 29 2008 but fell short of garnering an outright victory that would have seen him dislodging the veteran Zanu PF leader who had been in uninterrupted rule since 1980.

It was the first time that Mugabe had lost and conceded defeat in elections  although the results which forced a run off  with the MDC leader were released five weeks after voting, leading to suspicion that they were heavily tampered with.

Tsvangirai pulled out of the run off days before polling citing massive violence and intimidation – leaving Mugabe to hold a one man election which was dismissed as a sham – prompting SADC to push for a power-sharing deal that gave birth to the current inclusive government.

Against this background, Tsvangirai said it is critical that an election pitting himself against Mugabe should be called to deal with the farcical 2008 June Presidential run off.

Tsvangirai said his party  also condemned " in the strongest language all acts of violence targeted  at MDC members by rogue elements within the state."

He said the MDC also calls for  the withdrawal of all deployed security personnel in the countryside.

"Council calls on the Attorney General and the judiciary to prosecute all perpetrators of violence," said the MDC leader.

"So there is no need to go for harmonised elections when we have not resolved the disputed presidential election first."

Tsvangirai spoke as ZANU-PF prepared for its annual congress in the eastern city of Mutare that will endorse Mugabe, 86, as its candidate in the election he wants to be held by mid-year.

ZANU-PF and MDC legislators are against elections that will cut short their five-year term for a second time. The previous term ended prematurely in 2008 following a 2005 vote.

The next election will be the eighth major vote in Zimbabwe since 2000 and critics say rushed polls without political reforms, including a new constitution guaranteeing basic rights, would favour Mugabe and ZANU-PF, who have held power since independence from Britain in 1980.

Tsvangirai also accused Mugabe of deploying members of the security forces in the countryside before the vote to intimidate villagers. The MDC made major gains in ZANU-PF’s traditional rural strongholds in the last elections. – Daily News