Zimbabwe’s opposition leader made good on his vow to push ahead with his campaign on Wednesday, despite mounting violence, unveiling an American-style tour bus he will use to travel the country.
Business ground to a halt along Nelson Mandela Avenue in the vicinity of Harvest House when Tsvangirai arrived at his party’s headquarters aboard a brand new election campaign bus.
The 60-seater bus resplendent in the MDC’s bright red colour and with the legend “Morgan is the one” emblazoned along the sides, was launched Wednesday.
A novel departure from Zimbabwe’s rather staid political campaigning, the bus immediately attracted hundreds of people who rushed to catch a glimpse of the MDC leader as he emerged.
MDC officials said the unveiling of the bus, two weeks before the presidential election, was part of the MDC’s new campaign strategy in the face of the ban imposed by the police on the party’s rallies.
Last week Tsvangirai was detained twice in Matebeleland in the south-western regions of Zimbabwe as he made his way to scheduled campaign rallies.
He was released without charges being laid against him in each case.
The police impounded a BMW X5 sports utility vehicle which he was traveling in. Tsvangirai attracted large crowds in Nkayi, Lupane and Esigodini in Matabeleland.
As his bus approached Harvest House on Wednesday crowds cheered and chanted MDC slogans. Tsvangirai made a brief impromptu speech amid chants proclaiming victory for him on June 27.
MDC officials were forced to cancel a scheduled press conference as the safety of the crowd had become compromised. It is against Zimbabwean law for a large number of people to gather without prior police authorization.
Tsvangirai later travelled to the town of Norton, 50 kilometres west of Harare, where he conducted a “walkabout”, another new MDC campaign strategy during which the MDC leader meets people as he walks on the street. As another large crowd quickly developed he departed for the Midlands city of Kwekwe.
Tsvangirai meets incumbent President Robert Mugabe in two weeks on June 27 in a second round of voting within three months. He shocked Mugabe by beating him in the presidential election held on March 29.
After withholding the election results from announcement for five weeks the Zimbabwe Election Commission finally announced that while he was the victorious candidate Tsvangirai had not secured the required majority to form the next government.