HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday warned traditional leaders against force-marching their subjects to Zanu PF rallies, saying this is in contravention of the country’s new Constitution.
Tsvangirai told hundreds of MDC supporters in Mashonaland East — who braved Zanu PF intimidation and threats — that traditional leaders must be apolitical.
At Murehwa Centre, one of the venues where the MDC leader addressed a sizeable crowd, vehicles ferrying Zanu PF supporters wearing party regalia constantly circled the venue — keeping a close eye on everyone attending the rally.
“I hear that some chiefs and headmen are forcing people to go to Zanu PF rallies, stop it!” Tsvangirai said.
“The new constitution does not allow you to do that. I know that at times you are also threatened but you will not stop change which is inevitable,” Tsvangirai said to applause from the crowd.
The MDC leader addressed rallies at Kotwa Business Centre, Mudzi Centre, Mutoko and Murehwa Centre.
A number of MDC supporters in Mashonaland East Province told the Daily News that fear and intimidation from Zanu PF prevented a number of party supporters from attending the rallies.
Party activists said they feared being targeted for vindictive treatment as happened in the 2008 polls.
Tsvangirai told his supporters to wear Zanu PF regalia and attend the former ruling party’s rallies in order to maintain peace but vote for him on July 31.
“This election is about choosing the future and the past. It is about the old and the young generation. It is about darkness and light which the MDC represents and Zanu PF being darkness,” he said.
“Ask Zanu PF and its leader, President Robert Mugabe what they will offer in the coming five years which they failed to do in their 33-year-old rule.
“We saved this country from collapse in 2009 when we formed the inclusive government,” the former opposition leader said.
The MDC leader said his government will create jobs and transform rural areas into semi-industrial hubs.
“Hospitals were closed, schools had become museums under Mugabe’s rule, but today, you can confidently send your children to school, thanks to the MDC contribution in this inclusive government,” the MDC leader said.
Tracy Mutinhiri, former Zanu PF minister — now MDC candidate for Marondera East constituency — said Zanu PF was employing “dirty-tricks” of intimidation in the province in a bid “to stop change from taking place”
“I am glad that the people here have a slogan which says zviri mumoyo, (it’s my secret) when it comes to who they support. They will attend Zanu PF rallies but not on voting day, it will be their secret as to whom they would have voted for,” she said.