Tsvangirai accuses 'Zanu-PF thugs'

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has accused President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF of spearheading violence that has engulfed the country – but says the 87-year-old leader has agreed to rein in police to stop the carnage.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Times, Tsvangirai also spoke about his relationship with Mugabe, sanctions, the smuggling of precious minerals, the controversial indigenisation issue and the highly charged elections debate.

Tsvangirai was adamant that his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party was a victim of a well-orchestrated campaign of violence, which included the police and the army, and said Mugabe must come clean on the issue. He said the people behind the violence were scared of certain defeat in a free and fair election.

Tsvangirai revealed that the co-Minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone had been instructed to compile a comprehensive report on the violence, which she will present to the leaders for action.

In the past few weeks, Zanu- PF youths and war veterans, some of them armed, have attacked MDC supporters and officials in urban areas, assaulting and forcing them out of their homes in scenes reminiscent of the post -2008 general elections.

Said Tsvangirai: "Let’s agree that violence in this country is endemic, it is politically motivated and specifically spearheaded by elements in Zanu-PF. It is part of Zanu-PF tactics to coerce people to vote for them. Look at what is now happening in Mbare and Budiriro.

"As leaders of the MDC we are accused of not protecting people – when they go to report to the police they are the ones who are arrested. Police are not only being partisan, but they are clearly supporting Zanu-PF thugs. In the face of lack of protection how are the victims going to respond?

"I told President Mugabe that he has to come out and tackle the issue since he is running the security ministries. I told him he has to come out and deal with elements that continue to sour or to affect the running of the government."

Asked about Mugabe’s sincerity on violence, Tsvangirai said it was up to the president to prove he was telling the truth.

"What I know is that he promised to tackle the issue of violence against MDC supporters. However, I was shocked by his ignorance of what is happening. He said he was not aware police were taking sides. If it is true then there are people who are misleading him."

Tsvangirai confirmed that soldiers were being deployed countrywide to intimidate people to vote for Zanu-PF and Mugabe.

There have been reports that Tsvangirai’s own personal security is under threat, given that hardliners close to Mugabe describe him as a sell-out working with the British and the Americans towards regime change.

"I am aware that there are certain elements who are scared of what happens when the MDC defeats them in the next election. They are saying let’s eliminate the biggest threat – the MDC and Tsvangirai – but at the end of the day, it is the people who will prevail. The will of the people will always be respected," he said.

After two years in the inclusive government, Tsvangirai said the arrangement was a successful experiment which had made notable progress. This had seen food returning to the shops, banks operating normally, the media opening up.

But he said corruption was still rampant, especially among Zanu-PF ministers and senior officials. He also blamed the state media for continuously denigrating the MDC and promoting Zanu-PF.

Tsvangirai also lamented the slow implementation of all the 23 outstanding issues in the GPA but said he was hopeful that the reforms will be done this year.

On his relationship with Mugabe, he said they have to tolerate each other for the sake of progress. "In any effort to provide peace and stability in any country, especially in a post-conflict situation, one of the biggest challenges that is important in ensuring that peace is achieved is the political leadership.

"Both of us have the burden of ensuring peace in this country.

"My working with him was not out of choice but necessity that the things we have laid down to achieve are achieved in the national interest. I am sure he is motivated by the same reasons."