MARONDERA – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai launched his party’s manifesto in Marondera on Sunday, passionately appealing to Zimbabweans to stop President Robert Mugabe from pulling the country out of Sadc and bringing back the Zimbabwe dollar.
The MDC leader spoke to thousands of party supporters at a colourful manifesto launch in Mashonaland East — a province still nursing wounds of the 2008 post-poll violence.
Mugabe has threatened to pull Zimbabwe out of the 15-member regional grouping Sadc, apparently angry at the bloc’s insistence on the implementation of electoral reforms before elections set for July 31.
Tsvangirai said the country cannot afford to pull out of Sadc.
“In the impeding elections, the people of Zimbabwe have an opportunity to resist isolation of the country. We cannot do that in a global village,” said Tsvangirai, who also promised to create one million jobs in the first five years after assuming power.
“Internationally, we brought the country out of isolation. Even though our political counterparts seem hell-bent on driving Zimbabwe away from the family of nations, the people of Zimbabwe have a chance in this election to resist attempts at driving this country into miserable isolation.”
Mugabe last week caused a diplomatic storm after he described Zuma’s international advisor Lindiwe Zulu as a “stupid and idiotic street woman.”
“Let me take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude and appreciation to the people and leaders of Sadc,” he said.
“We are grateful to Sadc and especially that young lady Lindiwe Zulu.”
Zulu is part of Zuma’s facilitation team.
“We are faced with an election without reforms and against a leopard that has remained faithful to its spots,” said Tsvangirai.
He expressed hope that even if Zanu PF attempts to rig forthcoming polls, the will of people would be decisive.
The former trade unionist pledged to create jobs and boost manufacturing and mining industries.
He also promised to devolve power, introduce free healthcare within the first 100 days of his presidency and to scrap maternity healthcare fees for women.
The 61-year-old said he would only bring back the Zimbabwean dollar if there was economic stability. Tsvangirai spoke after Mugabe told his supporters last Friday that plans are underway to bring the shelved Zim-dollar.
The premier, who was forced into an acrimonious coalition with Mugabe in 2009 after disputed presidential elections in 2008, said the MDC joined the unity government to rescue Zimbabweans from competing with wild animals for food after an economic collapse wrought by a populist Zanu PF administration.
The MDC leader, who has been pushing the drip irrigation concept in remote areas such as Binga, says the main thrust of his government would be to modernise marginalised rural areas, improve access to health, electricity and improve agricultural productivity.
After Zanu PF’s resistance to a land audit over the past four years, Tsvangirai says his government is going to establish a land commission to address the issue of multiple land ownership.
“An MDC government will introduce loans and grants to tertiary college students and depoliticise food assistance,” he said.
“We place immense value in our sons and daughters in the Diaspora. Many of them fled political turmoil. We have a plan to bring them back,” said Tsvangirai to rapturous applause.