|Morgan Tsvangirai - Photo by Steve Punter|
Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai takes the cry for actualising the mandate given him across Africa.
By OLOLADE ADEWUYI, Accra
Dressed in a black suit in the hot sunshine of Accra, Morgan Tsvangirai arrived the Alisa Hotel where he was to address a press conference sweating. As he made his way into the cool comfort of the conference hall, he exclaimed in a soft voice to his two aides about being glad to finally get away from the searing 28 degrees heat. For someone who hails from a more temperate region of Africa, it was definitely very tough coping. But not as tough as the business which had brought him into town. Tsvangirai had used the opportunity of the quadrennial meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD XII, holding in Accra to meet with President John Kufuor and United Nations, UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon. He had come to seek for international help in resolving the crisis which is slowly engulfing his homeland, weeks after holding general elections in Zimbabwe; the ruling government of Robert Mugabe has failed to release election results leading to great uncertainty in the southern African country. The Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, which Tsvangirai leads, has claimed victory in the presidential elections. Tsvangirai claims his party won 50.3 per cent of votes cast, more than enough to see him become the country’s only other leader since independence from Britain in 1980.
The MDC has already won majority seats in the parliament from results declared by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, ZEC, a situation that has made the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front, ZANU-PF, look for desperate means to curtail a shameful loss. The election results have not been declared and it is calling for a run off. “We have stated before and wish to restate here in front of our African brothers that we will not participate in a stage-managed run off simply because Robert Mugabe does not want to accept that we won this election decisively,” Tsvangirai thundered. This stand has fetched him a charge of treason back home for which he has called a bluff of the government. The government of Mugabe has produced “evidence” that Tsvangirai has signed a pact with the West to return all lands seized by the government into the hands of white farmers. Tsvangirai stated that he is not in any way influenced by Western governments. “I am not under any brief from anyone”, he said. “Please respect the people of Zimbabwe, it is their mandate that I am under”.
Tsvangirai said he found the meeting with the two leaders (Kufuor and Ban) “productive”. He also denounced the role of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s leader in the crisis. “We are disturbed by the role that President Mbeki is playing in undermining our people’s victory,” he said. He called on Mbeki to make a stand with the people and not with any political party. Knowing that Mugabe is highly respected in the region for his fight against colonialism, many African leaders have shied away from criticising him publicly, not the least a man like Mbeki who heads another liberation party government. But this stand has caused a constant flow of refugees from Zimbabwe to seek better fortunes across the borders of neighbouring countries top of which is South Africa. Tsvangirai hopes that Mbeki can realise that the refugee situation is a result of the loss of confidence in Mugabe’s government by the people. Tsvangirai is taking his message across the world to anybody who cares to listen before things get out of hand. Back home his people are beginning to think he is not doing justice to the cause by staying abroad. His stay away from Zimbabwe is killing the morale of the masses. If he goes home, he will face unfair treason charges. But he swears to carry on the burden of the people’s mandate.
*Published in TELL magazine April 2008. Republished here as a tribute to Morgan Tsvangirai who passed on 14 February 2018.