Tendai Biti’s renewal team has upheld Robert Mugabe’s presidential election victory again, but the veteran leader’s defeated rival Morgan Tsvangirai insists the poll was rigged, igniting fresh tensions .
The July 31, 2013 vote cleared the way for Zimbabwe’s 90-year-old president to retain the top job.
Biti’s renewal team spokesperson Jacob Mafume delivered a statement at the Gweru Press Club on Thursday accepting the poll verdict.
“People voted for Zanu PF,” Mafume told reporters.
“Many, including civil servants, were gullible to Zanu PF election promises. They were promised above poverty datum line salaries and teachers’ leaders were heard celebrating the news prematurely, as they dined with Zanu PF ministers only to be disappointed after the elections. There are many people who I met in queues openly telling me that they intended to vote for Zanu PF. They went on to vote for Zanu PF and told us that we were getting carried away with power in the inclusive government.”
Mafume’s message resonates with recent assertions by Biti that Zanu PF had a sexy electoral message that helped it win the general elections last year.
Biti in March told a policy dialogue held at the Sapes Trust in Harare that Zanu PF’s “bhora mugedhi” message resonated with the electorate. He came under fire for conceding defeat to Zanu PF.
Tsvangirai told a news conference yesterday at Harvest House, the MDC headquarters in central Harare, that “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. 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 of government workers,” Tsvangirai said.
Biti, on the other hand, was one of the most vocal proponents of a poll-rerun and alleged in an August 3, 2013 opinion piece that Zanu PF had “stolen this election to the extent that they themselves are so embarrassed”.
Biti spent months championing the cause.
But at the policy dialogue held in Harare as Zanu PF spurned MDC calls for another coalition and amid intensifying intra-party clashes over leadership renewal, the lawyer claimed “we didn’t do well in 2013”.
“Zanu in the last election had a very simple message, ‘bhora mugedhi’. Even a little woman in Chendambuya or Dotito knew one thing, bhora mugedhi. Perhaps we were too sophisticated, but what was our message because the message of change of 2000 is not the message for now. We were selling hopes and dreams when Zanu PF was selling practical realities. We (Zanu PF) are going to give you a farm, it’s there. We are going to give you $5 000 through (Saviour) Kasukuwere’s ministry,” Biti said.
Zimbabwe’s longtime president Mugabe won 61 percent of the presidential vote on July 31, followed by Tsvangirai at 33 percent, securing the 90-year-old in power for 34 years and another five-year term in office.
Mafume on Thursday said now that the economy is not functioning and pre-election promises are yet to be met, “some people now claim the elections were rigged”.
“We know people voted for Zanu PF. We should not make excuses for the electorate,” Mafume said.
He scoffed at demands by Tsvangirai, 62, for fresh elections, ostensibly because last year’s polls were rigged by Mugabe.
In a damning letter to the Troika Organ on Politics, Defence and Security of the 15-member 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 in Victoria Falls last weekend, as hundreds of anti-government MDC protesters began a job march in the capital, raising fears of political instability.
“We should focus on the economy and play our role as the opposition by keeping the ruling Zanu PF on its toes. We are the opposition and we will tell them where they go wrong. There is an overdose of elections in the country and this tends to affect efforts to revive the economy. The focus should now be on fixing the economy. People need to breathe,” Mafume said.
“Zanu PF did whatever they did but the fact remains they won the elections. Let them govern for the benefit of everyone and work towards reviving the economy. Even if we hold elections, Zanu PF will win again. This is evident in the by-elections that have been held in the country so far. In any case, who will fund the elections? Certainly not the overburdened taxpayer.”