HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has told Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete that Zanu PF was hoodwinking the regional bloc and surreptitiously planning a peaceful but rigged election.
Tsvangirai met Kikwete in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday night. Kikwete is also the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) organ Troika on politics, defence and security.
Tsvangirai later had a brief stopover in the Angolan capital Luanda where he met the Foreign minister, Georges Chicoti.
Earlier on Sunday evening, Tsvangirai met South African leader Jacob Zuma in Pretoria before proceeding to the Tanzanian capital to meet the Sadc Troika chair.
The meetings are part of Tsvangirai’s regional diplomatic offensive to drum up support for his party’s position.
Sadc, the regional political and trading bloc, is the architect and guarantor of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which committed long-time rivals Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe to implement reforms ahead of a free poll which is due after June 29 when Parliament expires.
Commenting after his meeting with the Sadc Troika chair, Tsvangirai said “the calls for peace by the Zanu PF leadership and their actions on the ground, in particular with reference to the voters’ roll is increasingly pointing to a hidden strategy of hoodwinking the region, the international community and the Zimbabwean electorate that they are committed to a peaceful, free and fair election, when in fact they are committed to, and are planning for, a peaceful but rigged election.”
“Peace, although necessary, is not a sufficient condition for a credible and legitimate election,” Tsvangirai said.
Kikwete, after receiving a briefing from Tsvangirai, said: “As Sadc, we are very much interested in an election that is credible, free and fair. We want Zimbabweans to exercise their unfettered right to choose a leader of their choice.”
The Sadc Troika on politics, defence and security co-operation together with facilitator Zuma have been leading efforts to ensure Zimbabwe avoids a repeat of the violence witnessed in the 2008 vote that claimed over 200 lives and displaced another 200 000, according to human rights groups.
Tsvangirai on Sunday night told Zuma that he wanted a mini-regional summit convened to speed up all outstanding reforms ahead of a crucial election, chief among which are public media reforms, security sector realignment, a clean and credible voters’ roll and the alignment of laws to the new constitution.
Zuma told Tsvangirai that Sadc and the African Union, as the guarantors of the GPA, will do everything in their power to ensure a free and fair poll in Zimbabwe, and advised that he was heading to Harare for meetings with Zimbabwe principals.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai told Kikwete that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should ensure that everyone eligible to vote is registered on the voters roll.
Tsvangirai said his party wanted a clean and transparent voters’ roll, adding that his party would soon expose evidence of the connivance between some operatives of the Central Intelligence Organisation, the Registrar-General’s Office, Zanu PF and the ZEC secretariat in manipulating the voter’s roll.
The PM said: “We urge the region to remain vigilant about the situation in Zimbabwe. Given the reluctance by our partners to implement agreed reforms, Sadc, as the guarantors of the GPA, may have to convene a summit to ensure implementation of reforms and to set the ground rules for the next plebiscite.”
Tamborinyoka said the PM is set to continue his trip around Africa to sensitise the guarantors of the GPA on the delicate situation in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai is expected back home on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Zuma’s facilitation team yesterday spoke about the failure by Zanu PF negotiators to meet them on Tuesday.
“Representatives of the two MDC parties attended the meeting but Zanu PF representatives stayed away,” said a statement from convenor of the facilitation team Charles Nqakula.
“We did not hear from Zanu PF. Our effort at raising ministers Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche failed.”
“The MDC parties we met yesterday (Tuesday) conveyed to us what they believe are the real reasons why Zanu PF did not attend the meeting of the negotiators,” Nqakula said.
“On our part we believe Zanu PF representatives must have had a plausible reason for staying away.
“We don’t believe their action was in any way an act of bad faith. We are returning soon to Zimbabwe and believe all concerned will cooperate as we all search for the best instruments to ensure that the entire Zimbabwean population gets leaders who shall have emerged from a credible process, which shall be underpinned by a free and fair election,” reads part of the statement. – Gift Phiri, Political Editor