New Zimbabwe (London)

7 July 2014

Zimbabwe: I Was Wrong but I Won't Quit - Tsvangirai

Photo: MDC-T
MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai addressing a rally.

MDC-T Leader Morgan Tsvangirai has owned up to his leadership failures at the helm of the country's main opposition party but vowed to keep his job in the wake of an internal revolt by erstwhile comrades.

In some 'Personal Reflections' released to the media on Monday the former premier admitted getting some judgement calls wrong in the lead-up to last year's disastrous election performance but vowed to resist any unconstitutional attempt to force him out of office.

Rivals accuse him of ignoring advice from lieutenants against participating in last year's elections which saw President Robert Mugabe claim a landslide triumph while the opposition says the veteran leader stole his way to victory.

In his "Reflections", Tsvangirai pretty much admitted that he should probably have listened to advisers who urged him to boycott the vote.

"As the elections drew nearer, much of the intelligence we had gathered had pointed to the reality that the shenanigans from Zanu PF were at play," he said.

"But we had judged that our sheer numbers were going to overwhelm the electoral mischief Zanu PF had planned. Put simply, we underestimated the level of subversion of the people's will that had been planned."

He continued: "I remember my meeting with president Mugabe on the eve of the election, a meeting facilitated by former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo at which I tabled a copy of a couple of pages of the shambolic voters roll that was to be used in the elections the following day.

"Mugabe's response was - Ivo vanaMudede vanombozvifambisa sei? (How is the Registrar-General Mr Mudede doing his work?). He said this as he retracted into his chair, feigning ignorance of what was about to happen.

"Despite our much-concerted efforts to get the electronic voters roll on time and not getting it, we eventually participated in the elections without the said voters roll.

"As we in the MDC have said, we had assumed that our sheer numbers were going to overwhelm the rigging plot. With the benefit of hindsight, we were wrong!

"As the results of the elections became clear to our people on the ground, the nation had once again been short-changed in yet another electoral fraud."

The ex-premier then denied allegations he, like his nemesis Mugabe, wanted to die in office but warned rivals he would not be forced out unconstitutionally.

Internal leadership wars have rocked the MDC-T with a group of dissenters led by powerful secretary general Tendai Biti telling Tsvangirai to leave, citing his alleged dictatorial tendencies.

Tsvangirai however said the party's elective congress had been brought forward from 2016 to October this year and dared his rivals to challenge him then.

"I will state unequivocally that I have no intention of staying a day longer at the helm of the MDC without the people's mandate," he said.

"But I will also pronounce, with the same vigour and vehemence, that I will not be hounded out undemocratically through a hostile take-over outside a people's process called a party Congress.

"We cannot be self-contradictory as to claim to be democrats when at the same time we want to remove elected leadership through a coup d'état."

Tsvangirai continued: "Our national council has taken a position to bring forward our party Congress from 2016 to October this year.

"It is at that platform where all positions, including the Presidency, are open for contestation and I urge fellow party members to understand that it is that forum that elects and removes leaders.

"Party members know that even the Presidency is open for contestation by any nominated member and I make a guarantee that no one will be stopped from contesting for any position because we are a democratic party."

Tsvangirai said Zanu PF's supposed election victory signalled another dark period for crisis-weary Zimbabweans.

"That election was the beginning of the unprecedented uncertainty and we must budget for more such uncertainty under this dark cloud of illegitimacy. All the hope that had been generated for the nation has simply disappeared," he said.

"It had appeared to me after 2008 that Zanu PF had begun to appreciate the overwhelming impact of illegitimacy on all sectors of the economy. We all thought President Mugabe had come to desire a dignified exit. And again, that is as far as my humanity had judged. We were wrong."

Tsvangirai was optimistic time and perseverance would bring better fortunes for the country's battered population.

"But I want to restate that we remain determined people. We are confident that the change we seek will definitely be achieved well within our lifetime.

"Naysayers and doomsayers may be prematurely writing our obituary but we remain focused on what we set out to achieve in 1999. And we will achieve it."

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