Morgan Tsvangirai stakes claim to Zimbabwean presidency | Africa | DW | 17.05.2013
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Morgan Tsvangirai stakes claim to Zimbabwean presidency

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has unveiled plans to win back foreign investors if he beats veteran leader Robert Mugabe in elections later this year.

Speaking on Friday May 17 at the official start of a three-day conference of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said his party will lead Zimbabwe out of its economic and political quagmire if he becomes president later this year.

“The election is a formality. It is a formality of saying those who believe in past policies that destroyed this country, have no chance, have no place for the future of this country," Tsvangirai told cheering supporters.

He also promised to win back investors and clip the security services' wings. "We will open Zimbabwe for business, usher in substantive reforms in various sectors with the sole objective of spurring economic growth," Tsvangirai declared.

People queue to vote. Photo: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti says Zimbabweans will vote overwhelmingly for the MDC

Setting out his plans for the elections, Tsvangirai seemed full of confidence that he will oust 89 year-old Robert Mugabe. The MDC leader described his party as the champion of a new, reformed constitution accepted by the majority in a March 2013 referendum. He also referred to fears that the upcoming elections could be accompanied by violence.

"The next election is not necessarily going to be about who can set in motion the most blazing violence in our land. There are some people who believe that without violence they are not going to win the support of the people. No to violence,” he declared to applause.

Tsvangirai also vowed to create a government that will restore human rights and the rule of law.

Waning popularity

Although no firm date for Zimbabwe's elections has yet been set, they are expected to be held in late summer. The election will end Tsvangirai's coalition government with President Robert Mugabe that was formed four years ago.

Since then, however, the MDC has been losing popularity among Zimbabweans. Some people say the MDC has not lived up to its promise to tackle issues such as press freedom and poverty, and end the country's economic crisis.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which was the main force behind the formation of the MDC, believes the prime minister and his party must change their way of doing things if they are to win the next elections. Japhet Moyo is the head of the ZCTU, a position which Tsvangirai once held.

"You put us in a difficult and awkward position to justify the links we have, Moya said at the MDC party congress. " As we move towards the elections I must hasten to tell you that what comes out of this conference will build or destroy you.“

A recent opinion poll conducted byFreedom House, a US-based group, sees a resurgence of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party with 31 percent from 17 percent, with support for the MDC dropping dramatically from 38 to 20 percent. Speaking to DW's Africalink program ,Zimbawe's Finance Minister and MDC Secretary General, Tendai Biti, dismissed the poll.

President Mugabe +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Robert Mugabe's land reform is widely blamed for Zimbabwe's economic crisis

"The MDC is going to win the election by 78 percent. For 33 years ZANU-PF has messed up our country, they have nothing to say and our people understand that," Biti told DW.

The MDC which was formed in 1999 became the first party to take the majority in Zimbabwe's parliament from ZANU-PF in the last elections.

Analysts say Zimbabwe's economy took a nose-dive when President Mugabe's government embarked on a chaotic land reform program in the year 2000. It displaced experienced white commercial farmers and replaced them with black peasant farmers.

Since then the country has become a net importer of food. This is one of the things that Morgan Tsvangirai wants to reverse if he wins the next election.

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