New Zimbabwe (London)

22 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Spurned Tsvangirai Withdraws Mugabe Talks Offer

OPPOSITION MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Friday he was withdrawing his offer for dialogue with President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party after getting no response from the veteran leader.

The former premier had called on Mugabe to organise a national dialogue to address what he describes as a national crisis stemming from last year's elections which the opposition party claims were rigged.

But on Friday Tsvangirai was forced to admit there would be no new round of talks with Zanu PF and warned he would now mobilise supporters "to reclaim their rights".

"Our call for national dialogue has been spurned by Zanu PF," the MDC-T leader told journalists at a press conference in Harare.

"The executive resolved to withdraw that call for dialogue to avert the crisis but to now demand the implementation of agreed reforms that will ensure a free, fair and credible poll.

"We are aware that protests and petitions of any scale and magnitude are permissible under our new Constitution.

"We unreservedly resist all forms of intimidation and coercion and resolved to support and stand by any sector in the country that will peacefully demand the resolution of any of the national grievances or express legitimate concerns of national interest."

The former premier accused Mugabe of insensitivity and provocation after Zanu PF organised a party for senior officials at State House at a time the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans were struggling in a failing economy.

"We all remember the grand theft of July 31 at which the people's mandate was stolen. But one year on, without a hint of irony, we had a handful of people holding a purported national celebration at State House."

He added: "Closeted away from the painful daily experiences of a people mired in a serious national crisis, our colleagues had the reckless and provocative courage to throw a party, even at a time when they are struggling to pay salaries to government workers ...

" ... far away from the people who know that any party whatsoever is not only provocative, but out of sync with the harsh reality that we ordinary Zimbabweans are living every day".

Zanu PF, he added, was also working on plans to rig the 2018 elections instead of concentrating on stemming the country's economic slide.

"We are aware that the military was deployed at traditional leaders' homesteads to intimidate people to vote for Zanu PF," he said.

"In one constituency in Mberengwa all the electoral officials were relatives of a Zanu PF candidate. You should wait for the dossier when it is done.

"We are aware that Nikuv is localising and training operatives in preparation for the 2018 elections while 14-year-olds are being registered because they will be 18 in 2018."

Tsvangirai said his party would not participate in any elections without reforms but rejected criticism he took his eyes off the ball and failed to force implementation of these changes while in a coalition government with Mugabe between 2009 and 2013.

"Remember we said when we went into the GNU we were a party in government, we were not the government," he explained.

"We knew exactly the extent of power configuration and with time we realised that Mugabe's intention was to breathe some life out of this period and not to institute those reforms that were necessary for the country to go through a proper transition.

"The mistake was that we placed in the negotiations and focused on creating a government over the wrong political architecture because the bureaucracy that supported Zanu PF remained intact."

Tsvangirai conceded that by agreeing to work with Mugabe at a time the country's economy was near collapse he probably rescued the Zanu PF leader but said his decision also helped ease the plight of millions of suffering Zimbabweans.

"That Mugabe was rescued by the GNU was an unintended consequence but our intention and motivation was to rescue the people of Zimbabwe and the economy.

"We wanted stability but you cannot then accuse us of helping to instal Mugabe to another five-year mandate as a result," he said.

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