The Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has softened his
party’s stance, for now, on boycotting a run-off presidential vote by setting conditions on participation.
From our correspondent in Harare
Mr Tsvangirai says he would only participate in a second-round presidential run-off if it is run by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and on condition that all international observers are admitted to witness the poll.
“Any run-off election has to be conducted under SADC and it has to be run transparently, freely and fairly. Every observer who wants to witness it ought to be allowed in,” he said.
However, Mr Tsvangirai insisted that he was the winner of the presidential election and should be allowed to form an “inclusive government” to concentrate on the business of rebuilding Zimbabwe.
“SADC leaders must understand that the issue here is not about mere
figures. The issue is that Mugabe lost badly and must give up power,” he said. ” Mugabe is delaying the inevitable. The people’s will will prevail.”
On Monday, the high court dismissed MDC application with costs that sought to force the Electoral Commission to release the result of the presidential election.
Lawyers for Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change were considering appealing to the Zimbabwe Supreme Court today. Issuing what is a body blow to MDC hopes, High Court judge Tendai Uchena said: “This court is…not entitled to intervene and order respondents (ZEC) to announce the results on the basis of failure to comply with the law.”
MDC lawyer Andrew Makoni said: “The court has given the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission a blank cheque. We don’t know when they will be ready to release the results, or what length of delay would be reasonable in the eyes of the court.”
Tuesday morning another MDC says his clients are challenged election results for about 60 parliamentary seats won by the ruling ZANU-PF party.
“All in all we have filed about 60 applications to the Electoral Court in
respect of the house of assembly seats. The applications are to ensure that the declarations of the results be set aside,” MDC lawyer Charles Kwaramba indicated.
Extra pressure on the ZEC is also being planned today when Tsvangirai has called for a general strike, to end only when the results are known.
Mugabe’s security forces fanned out across the country last night on the eve of a general strike called by the opposition, after a judge threw out its bid to force the election results.
The MDC urged Zimbabweans to show their disgust at the continuing hold-up by launching a general strike from Tuesday until the results of the March 29 presidential poll are released.
Police accused Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of trying to cause mayhem and issued a statement threatening that “those who breach the peace will be dealt with severely and firmly”.
“The call by the MDC Tsvangirai faction is aimed at disturbing peace and
will be resisted firmly by the law enforcement agents whose responsibility is to maintain law and order in any part of the country,” it said.
National police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said officers and soldiers were being deployed throughout the country.
In a further sign of mounting unrest, the opposition claimed that one of its election agents had been stabbed to death by Mugabe supporters over the weekend in what it claimed was the first politically-motivated killing since the polls.
Police confirmed the agent, Tapiwa Mubwanda, had been killed, but said the motive had yet to be established.
Dozens of riot police hovered outside the High Court as Judge Tendai Uchena rejected a petition from the MDC calling for the electoral commission to immediately declare the poll result.
The ruling Zanu-PF said it was not surprised by the ruling, which
spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa called an attempt by the MDC to force the commission “to announce an incorrect result and to cause confusion”.
With their court bid unsuccessful, the opposition has called for the public
to make a stand against the delay by staging a mass stay-in until the
results are released.
“What we want is for ZEC (electoral commission) to announce the results.
“We hope every Zimbabwean takes it upon themselves to speak out and be heard. Voting alone was not enough.
“We want our results, the time has come,” the party’s vice-president
Thokhozani Khupe said.