The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: 'Voting MDC Wasting Votes'

Bulawayo — PEOPLE should go out in large numbers on Saturday and vote for Zanu-PF as voting for the opposition MDC is tantamount to wasting votes, President Mugabe said yesterday.

Addressing thousands of people at Stanley Square in Makokoba, Bulawayo, President Mugabe said there was no way the MDC could be allowed to rule this country as it is led by puppets of Western countries who would reverse the gains of the country's independence.

"You can vote for them (MDC), but that will be a wasted vote. You will be cheating yourself as there is no way we can allow them to rule this country," said President Mugabe drawing applause from the enthusiastic crowd.

"We have a job to do and that is to protect our heritage. The MDC will not rule this country. It will never, ever happen. Asisoze sivume."

The President had the crowd in stitches when he said the symbol of the MDC -- an open palm -- is an indication that the opposition does not have the zeal to work for the people.

"What kind of a symbol is that? It shows that the MDC does not have the zeal to work for the people. As for our fist, it indicates the willingness to work. Thina inqindi silazo, siyanqinda futhi," he said.

President Mugabe said while residents of Bulawayo and Harare have tended to vote against the ruling party, he wants to see both cities voting for it this time.

Turning to the economy, Cde Mugabe said the Government was working on modalities of reviving it despite Western sanctions imposed on the country as punishment for the Government's land reform programme.

The Western sanctions, he added, have hit the country hard as there are shortages of foreign currency and fuel, among other challenges.

Although Zimbabwe is a member of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, he said both multilateral financial institutions are not providing any assistance to the country because Britain and the United States are influencing them to do so.

But he said the economy would rebound as the country's Look East Policy was beginning to bear fruit.

"Nhamo dzese dzamuri kuona -- lack of foreign currency and so on -- are because of sanctions," said President Mugabe.

"The Look East Policy took long to bear fruit because our economy was aligned to the West. But trade relations with India, Iran, China and Indonesia are growing. The West is also turning East."

He added that while Europe and the US publicly claim that the sanctions are targeted at certain individuals, they are also affecting the majority.

President Mugabe added that the Western powers also sought to widen the sanctions by dissuading some Zimbabwean allies, such as Libya and China, to cut trade ties with Harare.

The President castigated the MDC for inviting the sanctions and promising to return land to whites in the unlikely event that it wins the elections.

"Tichiri kuenderera mberi nekupa vanhu land. Vangati chii vakatipa nyika vana (the late Vice-President Dr Joshua) Nkomo nava (Simon) Muzenda? Kuti vati Mugabe watengesa nyika? Vari shure kwedu asi vapenyu kwandiri. Their spirits will live," he said.

He again attacked both factions of the MDC for approving the candidacy of former white farmers, David Joubert and Alex Goosen, who are contesting for the Bubi House of Assembly seat in Matabeleland North.

He said these two candidates and other white former farmers are still bitter about losing land to its rightful owners.

"Are there no blacks who can stand in those areas?" he asked.

In Marondera, in Mashonaland East, he added, there is also another white MDC candidate, Ian Kay, whom he said was splashing money in his campaign.

Cde Mugabe said many other whites have returned into the country and are hiding in safari camps in various parts of the country. They returned, anticipating an opposition victory, but they are mistaken, President Mugabe said.

He chronicled the liberation struggle, the suffering, injuries and deaths that blacks endured.

On the challenges the country is facing, he said the Government is aware that Bulawayo was facing power and water shortages, and work is underway to resolve them.

He said the Government is also working to boost the country's electricity generating capacity at Hwange Thermal Power Station and at Kariba. In Gokwe, the Government is working with a partner to exploit coal deposits in the area to generate more thermal electricity for the country.

On health, President Mugabe said he recently got a present of US$1 million which he has used to buy scanners that are used to examine, in detail, the human body and identify any health problems.

"I have bought scanning machines which can see right into the liver in one's body, in detail, what we go to South Africa for. They will be distributed to all major hospitals and, in future, there would be no need to go to South Africa for medical attention," said the President.

Later, he moved to Inkanyezi Primary School in New Lobengula where he addressed thousands of supporters.

He said the ruling party is the only political formation in the country that brought independ-ence and has the interests of the majority at heart.

He told the crowd that the MDC was created by Britain with the goal of effecting regime change in Zimbabwe. "Saka mochenjera zvino kana vachiuya kwamuri vachiti vanogona kugadzira upfumi hwenyika," he said.

"Tsvangirai wakandofunda kupi zvekugadzira upfumi hwenyika?" he added, drawing laughter from the crowd.

"Haakwanisi kuti azvifungire ega, anokwanisa kufungirwa nevamwe chete. Vamwe vake vacho ndivanani? Varungu nema (former) white farmers."

He urged the ruling party faithfuls to defend their national interests by voting for the ruling party.

"Shall Zimbabwe go into the hands of whites? Ndipo patinomira isu vamwe pakuti this is the time to make a stand. It is do or die. All we are saying is that stand together, the country is ours, our children died for it. We will never part with our land. Let the British hear that, that here we stand, here we shall die," said the President.

He, however, expressed concern at the defection of former politburo members, Dr Dumiso Dabengwa and Dr Simba Makoni, an independent presidential candidate.

He said by backing Dr Makoni, Dr Dabengwa has strayed into the darkness. "Haana kana kaparty," he said referring to Dr Makoni.

"He is the only one without a party. Even PUMA (Patriotic Union of Matabeleland). We know that PUMA will phuma. We know that this is also not a party, but Makoni has nothing, absolutely nothing. Makoni, Makoni, Makoni ndiyo iri kutevererwa naDabengwa, ahh no, no, no. Ndinoti vanorasika vanorasika zvavo asi isu tiri mugwara. Let us remain firm," he added.

He reiterated that the Government knew the challenges that the people were facing, but expressed surprise at how Bulawayo is facing a maize shortage. "I am surprised why Bulawayo is short," said President Mugabe.

"The railway lines from Zambia and South Africa pass through here. I cannot understand that. But since a lot of maize is still outside the country and being delivered, we will correct that," the President said.

He said the farm mechanisation scheme will continue and was not meant to benefit the ruling party during election time.

President Mugabe later presented six 40-seater buses and 11 smaller 14-passenger buses to the people, saying they were part of the 35 buses which Bulawayo Province would get like all other provinces countrywide.

Speaking earlier at both rallies, ruling party national chairman Cde John Nkomo dismissed reports being peddled by Dr Makoni that the independent presidential candidate was blocked from standing for the presidency.

He said party structures agreed that President Mugabe stands as the party's presidential candidate for Saturday's election. At the ruling party's extraordinary congress in December last year, everyone was given the platform to nominate other candidates, but Dr Makoni and Dr Dabengwa, who attended the event did not object to President Mugabe's endorsement.

Both rallies were attended by Politburo members - Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Cde Absolom Sikhosana, Cde Richard Ndlovu, Matabeleland South Governor and Resident Minister Cde Angeline Masuku, Bulawayo Metropolitan Governor Cde Cain Mathema, Bulawayo provincial chairman Cde Macleod Tshawe, national commissar Cde Elliot Manyika and the secretary for information and publicity, Cde Nathan Shamuyarira.

Others were Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial executive members and the party's candidates for the forthcoming elections and service chiefs.

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