Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has written to Sadc demanding fresh elections, claiming that last year’s polls were rigged by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.
In a damning letter to the Troika Organ on Politics, Defence and Security of the 15-member Southern African Development Community (Sadc), Tsvangirai said a compromise to produce a government that might save Zimbabwe from further financial calamity was proving elusive.
The MDC leader’s emissaries handed the letter to the regional leaders at the two-day summit at the Victoria Falls at the weekend, as hundreds of anti-government MDC protesters began a jobs march in the capital Harare yesterday, raising fears of political instability.
The opposition party’s calls for demonstrations are appealing to poor Zimbabweans struggling with high unemployment, daily power and water cuts, a deepening liquidity crunch and deflation.
Tsvangirai’s letter claimed that the 2013 elections were rigged and that Mugabe has a fake mandate.
But Zanu PF and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have rejected the claims.
“As we write to you, we are aware that Mr Mugabe, the man at the centre of the illegitimate government in Harare, is the incoming chairperson of Sadc,” Tsvangirai’s letter says.
The MDC leader’s letter came as regional leaders handed the rotating Sadc chair to Mugabe.
Confirming that it was in a Catch-22 over Mugabe’s chairmanship, Tsvangirai’s letter was handed to the Troika not the Sadc chairman as is the norm, and to other 14 heads of State.
The opposition MDC is hoping for a solution over the disputed election and was in a quandary over plans to take the query to the Sadc, which is now chaired by Mugabe.
“It is in this respect that we hope that the Sadc Troika, to which we have addressed this letter, will take seriously our position on the developments in this country, which developments are slowly gravitating towards an inevitable implosion,” Tsvangirai’s letter says.
“We in the MDC have waited long enough for truly free and fair elections. We have great faith in Sadc as an institution and the dedication of its member states to ensure peace and good, democratic governance in our region.”
The regional bloc mediated a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and the MDC leader five years ago.
“Despite Mr Mugabe’s chairing of the regional body, we urge all member states to take into cognisance the grievous and parlous state of the economic and political situation in Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai said in his letter.
Zimbabwe has lurched from one crisis to the next since last year’s poll and is now enduring a deepening recession. Nearly one Zimbabwean worker in five has no job.
“We in the MDC will not be looking forward to events taking care of themselves, or to expect this illegal government to take seriously their responsibility by ensuring a return to legitimacy or stemming the unfolding economic and political tide,” Tsvangirai’s letter says.
“Our Constitution, to which our colleagues in Zanu PF have no iota of respect, makes it certain that it is within the rights of citizens to engage in peaceful protests,” the letter adds.
The MDC has said it would be unfurling weekly protests until their demands are met.
“We in the MDC are drawing a line in the sand and we hereby inform our colleagues in Sadc, well in advance, that the people of Zimbabwe shall be writing their own script for an endgame to the struggle for freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai warned.
“The multi-layered crisis in the country is stemming from the crisis of legitimacy, arising from the stolen election of July 31, 2013.
“It is a crisis that can only be resolved by a return to confidence and legitimacy, which can only happen once this country holds a truly free and fair election predicated on those reforms that Sadc itself had insisted on, before allowing the election to proceed in the absence of the same reforms.”
A key Sadc resolution at a Maputo Sadc summit held ahead of last year’s election was that the Zimbabwe government was mandated to engage the Constitutional Court to postpone the election from July 31, 2013 to enable reforms to take place.
Tsvangirai said that postponement did not happen and the country went to rushed polls in the absence of key reforms that Sadc itself had said were at the heart of the conduct for a truly free and fair election.
“As I write this letter, President Mugabe has confirmed that on-going internal elections in his own party are being rigged amid allegations of vote-buying and kidnappings,”
Tsvangirai said, referring to accusations of ballot fraud that blighted the Zanu PF Youth League vote last week.
The former prime minister said it was his belief that Sadc’s role does not begin and end with elections.
“Sadc has a role to play in this country, especially in the face of a debilitating crisis and the government’s failure to implement a national Constitution written and endorsed by millions of the country’s citizens,” Tsvangirai’s letter says.
“There was a crisis of monumental proportions when Sadc intervened in 2008 and the region cannot just watch while the situation deteriorates to yet another crisis of a similar magnitude,” Tsvangirai said.
Lieutenant-colonel Tanki Mothae, director of the Sadc Troika, told reporters in Victoria Falls ahead of the summit that regional leaders would not entertain opposition complaints.