Polls won’t be free: Tsvangirai

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday ruled out any chance of a free and fair election, saying failure to implement critical reforms was likely to mar the July 31 polls.

Report by Staff Reporter

Launching his presidential campaign at Marondera’s Rudhaka Stadium, Tsvangirai said he was approaching the elections with a heavy heart.

“There are no reforms in the media and other reforms to ensure free and fair elections have not been achieved,” he lamented.

“We are faced with an election without reforms and against a leopard that has remained faithful to its spots, but our faith in God and our collective desire for real transformation will make us triumph over the temporary setbacks.”

Buoyed by a capacity crowd, the MDC-T leader said he had tried to ensure the implementation of key reforms, but he had been frustrated by his coalition partner President Robert Mugabe.

“Regrettably, what we have witnessed in the last few weeks is a concerted effort designed to rob the election of legitimacy before it

has even begun,” he said. “But we believe in the people of Zimbabwe and your collective wisdom.”

The Premier has been insisting on key reforms before elections, but Mugabe has thwarted all these calls, insisting that there was no need to give more concessions to the former trade unionist’s MDC-T party. Among the key reforms that Tsvangirai called for were media and security sector realignment.

Tsvangirai said the election, which will spell an end to the inclusive government, marked a new beginning for the country.

“We can see the horizon and I share your optimism that this time we will close a sad chapter of despair, violence, unilateralism, bullying and barbarism and open a new one of hope, peace, prosperity and happiness,” he continued.

Despite criticism of their time in the government, Tsvangirai spoke glowingly of his party’s achievements during the last four years, saying they had stabilised the economy and ensured that hospitals and schools were staffed.

The MDC-T is often accused of joining the gravy train, with its ministers allegedly lining their pockets at the expense of the country, a charge they deny.

“Unhindered by our partners who have perfected the art of lies and dishonesty, we are the people’s hope and we will not fail this nation and future generations,” he said. “We are poised for a break with the past and together, we will zoom into a new horizon of happiness and comfort.”

Tsvangirai squares off with Mugabe for the third time in elections that could mark an end to either’s political career.

The PM insists that he was robbed in both 2002 and 2008 elections and he had hoped that reforms were likely to level the playing field.

Elections will be held on July 31, after the Constitutional Court, last Thursday, upheld its earlier decision that polls should be held by the end of the month.

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