THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC Alliance has said it respects President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the constitutionally-appointed leader of Zimbabwe, but emphasised the need to hold elections to come up with “a leader with no baggage”.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, where they gave feedback on their recent trip to the United States following a backlash over reports that the coalition had invited sanctions for the country, MDC Alliance principals Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube said they did not dispute that Mnangagwa was the legitimate leader of the country.
The two said Mnangagwa was appointed after Zanu PF forwarded his name to the Speaker of the National Assembly as was required by the Constitution.
But the duo claimed Mnangagwa lacked political legitimacy because he inherited former President Robert Mugabe’s rule that was itself marked by legitimacy questions after the “stolen” previous elections.
“The issue of Mnangagwa’s leadership is legal formalism, but he lacks political legitimacy,” Ncube said.
“What has been the problem in Zimbabwe is the lack of political legitimacy. He inherited Mugabe’s crown and that includes his political illegitimacy.”
Mnangagwa took over after a military intervention to settle Zanu PF’s internal succession problems that led to Mugabe’s abrupt resignation last month.
MDC-T deputy president Nelson Chamisa, who was in the US together with People’s Democratic Party leader Biti, said contrary to Zanu PF accusations, their trip was a meant to open lines of diplomatic communication for the benefit of the country.
Chamisa said economic growth in the post-Mugabe era could only be ushered in by a return to legitimacy and the people’s will underwritten by Sadc, Africa and the international community, which formed the basis of their diplomatic offensive which they would spread to China, Russia and other countries.
“It is within this hope that the MDC Alliance presidential candidate despatched us into Africa, Europe and the United States on a global campaign for free, fair and credible elections,” he said.
Chamisa said the country needed $15 billion to reconstruct and their US trip was to start the ball rolling for the raising of funds to rebuild the country as soon as they “win” the 2018 general elections.
“Zimbabweans know that this country needs to start afresh. We need international goodwill, we need massive capital injection, but, above all, we need the international confidence, which confidence can only come with the installation of a legitimate regime in Harare through credible elections,” he said.
Chamisa said Mnangagwa had promised free and fair elections, but what was worrying was the absence of a road map to the polls.
He said the opposition did not regret its role in the ouster of Mugabe and all that they needed was the undoing of the system the former Zanu PF leader left behind.
He said their visit would see America improve its humanitarian assistance.
As part of the immediate return to legitimacy, the MDC Alliance demanded the implementation of electoral reforms, the setting up of a credible biometric voters’ roll, media reforms, foreign observation to elections, introduction of diaspora votes, establishment of an enabling electoral environment as well as repeal of the Public Order and Security Act and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
They also demanded the demilitarisation of government institutions.
The MDC Alliance reiterated that Tsvangirai was its presidential candidate and would defeat Mnangagwa by a big margin in the 2018 watershed elections.
Meanwhile MDC-T youth leader Happymore Chidziva said the youth also endorsed Tsvangirai as MDC Alliance presidential candidate.
“He is our best foot forward as he has a record of beating Robert Mugabe in any election. The year 2018 will see us reclaiming our lost victory from Zanu PF and the unpopular Emmerson Mnangagwa will fall.”
In 2008, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round, but failed to garner the majority votes required by the Constitution for an outright victory.
He, however, pulled out of the rerun citing violence, a situation that later forced the parties to enter into an inclusive government.
On Tsvangirai’s prospects of winning against Mnangagwa, Chidziva described the new Zanu PF leader as an easy opponent compared to Mugabe.
“It’s on record that Mnangagwa was beaten by Blessing Chebundo in Kwekwe and results are there. Morgan Tsvangirai was above them all and went on to beat Mnangagwa’s former boss, hence, even now, he will be an easy challenge,” Chidziva said. NewsDay