HARARE – Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has apologised to Zimbabweans for agreeing to participate in the 2013 elections in the absence of requisite reforms demanded by the party and Sadc before the controversial polls.
Against his better judgment, Tsvangirai, who was the prime minister in an uneasy coalition government between 2009 and 2013, contested in the general elections two years ago and lost to President Robert Mugabe — whose party grabbed an unassailable two thirds majority.
But Tsvangirai has refused to accept the poll outcome, pointing out to the involvement of a shadowy Israeli company, Nikuv, “to manipulate the electoral processes”.
After the rout, Tsvangirai, who went to the polls without a voters’ roll, was accused by his critics of having ignored advice from Sadc.
And on Thursday night while unveiling his party’s “Without Reforms, No Elections” document, the veteran opposition leader, whose party turns 16 this month, said they made a mistake.
“We were wrong in 2013 and we cannot afford to be wrong again in 2015. This time, we are insisting on the implementation of what we agreed together as political players under the auspices of the regional body.”
In the document, the MDC leader sets out conditions that would see him taking part in future elections.
He said it is wrong to assume that “the sheer numbers of Zimbabweans would overwhelm whatever shenanigans Zanu PF had planned, to subvert the will of the people”.
Tsvangirai also demanded that mechanisms be put in place to ensure that in future polls, traditional leaders do not frog-march people to vote for certain political parties as has become the norm in Zimbabwe’s politics.
Mugabe has been accused of taking advantage of his incumbency to direct traditional leaders who are on the public service payroll to coerce people to support Zanu PF.
Tsvangirai said his party’s demands also include certain technical issues with a bearing on the credibility of elections including the independence of the Rita Makarau-led Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
“The issues also include transparency and full accountability on voter registration, the voters’ roll and the printing of election and voting materials.
“We saw recently in elections in Namibia and Zambia that it is possible to have representation from all contesting parties at the printing and transportation of all voting materials, even if the material is printed outside the country where an election is taking place.”
The battle-hardened Tsvangirai also made a case for unbiased accreditation of election observers.
“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide and we believe the non-accreditation of certain observers is based on our own fears because we are not confident of the transparency of our electoral processes.”
He said the reforms that his party are demanding are meant to ensure that Zimbabwe will not have any disputed elections in future.
“The country cannot afford to get it wrong next time, whenever that next time will be!” he said.