‘Tsvangirai for polls before UNWTO’


HARARAE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai hopes an election before the United Nations World Tourism Conference (UNWTO) slated for August would put fetters on Zanu PF’s violence machinery since world attention will be firmly trained on Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai’s coalition partner in the unity government, has made a major climb-down from his earlier assertions that the country would hold elections by March.

While Tsvangirai’s MDC has upped preparations for the watershed polls having already received names of election candidates, Zanu PF is lagging behind as it haggles over the criteria that should be used in its primary elections — that are likely to further divide the faction-riddled party ahead of national polls.

Tendai Biti, MDC’s secretary-general has already indicated that his party wants elections in June or July, but Zanu PF is yet to make a formal position, heightening speculation that the liberation party is now in retreat.

Alex Magaisa, Tsvangirai’s aide, told the Daily News that the PM will work flat out to ensure the conference succeeds.

Magaisa said the PM would push for funding for the UNTWO conference, which is $11 million short.

“The PM is consulting with his fellow principals over the funding of the event,” Magaisa said.

“Politically, it is an important occasion because it would incentivise good behaviour among political players. It is important that we facilitate the conference otherwise it will be taken from us. The threat of the conference being taken from us is very real.”

Successive elections since 2000 have been blighted by violence, as the world attention would be fixed on other troubled spots, however, in this year’s polls, where Sadc guidelines on elections will be used, the world will be looking at Zimbabwe.

Biti, who is also the Finance minister, recently announced that the government is prepared to sponsor observers and monitors’ stay in the country who will come for the referendum until well after the decisive polls, dates of which are yet to be agreed by Principals.

Apart from counting on the UNTWO conference, the MDC has also been pushing for security sector and media reforms.

With the army generals apparently unfazed by talk of reforms and Zanu PF seemingly reluctant to touch the contentious issue, sources in the MDC say the UNTWO would rein-in the security sector, which continues to threaten the impeding polls, notwithstanding Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s commitment to peace.

Tsvangirai, however, has an insurmountable task ahead of him as he sweats over funding for the referendum and elections, with the tourism indaba adding to the list of competing priorities.

Already, a broke Cabinet has written to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) pleading for a massive $250 million cash injection to fund the elections.

MDC formations in the government say money from diamond mining should be availed to bankroll the crucial national programmes.

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