HARARE – MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai believes the removal of Robert Mugabe as president must be followed by free and fair elections.
He told thousands of people who had gathered at the Africa Unity Square in support of Mugabe’s impeachment motion that comprehensive electoral reforms must precede his removal to enable Zimbabweans to freely excise their franchise rights in the next election.
“The issue is not about Mugabe to go as a person, the question is for those of us who are saying he should go, what are we going to do for the people of Zimbabwe.
“We are saying we want a process, we will all agree on that we first want to build a different Zimbabwe, and we want a democratic Zimbabwe.
“Now, a democratic Zimbabwe is not going to be built by another undemocratic process, continuation of Zanu PF policies and character and culture must stop.
“Issues of violence, issues of human rights abuses, issue of violating the Constitution must stop.
“We want to sit down and build Zimbabwe. I want us to build from the beginning. First let’s have a free and fair election,” said Tsvangirai.
He urged Zimbabweans to register to vote in the ongoing biometric voter registration blitz that ends in January.
“Please go register to vote, we no longer want an election that is disputed and conflicted,” he said.
“There must not be confusion over what we want, the issue of Mugabe must go didn’t start now.
“For some of us, we tried democratic ways to have him go but it was not possible, everybody remembers 2008.” Tsvangirai won the March 29, 2008 poll but fell short of the majority needed for an outright victory.
He withdrew from the subsequent run-off election because of State-backed violence against his supporters but Mugabe went ahead with the one man-vote despite a wave of international condemnation.
A series of events —that started with former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ominous letter this month that he would return to rule Zimbabwe following his unceremonious dismissal by Mugabe eventually led to the despot’s celebrated downfall yesterday.
Although he had resisted a deadline issued by Zanu PF to step down on Monday, Mugabe had remained a lame duck president after his ministers snubbed him and his members of Parliament moved the motion to impeach him.
For some, Mugabe will always be the hero who brought the country’s independence from the British in 1980 and that is acknowledged even by his former allies who turned against him after he had been “captured’’ by his ambitious wife Grace.
In his last days Mugabe abandoned his former allies and took advice from his wife, a former typist who wanted to be the president.
The army stepped in and set the people on him.
He is gone.
So even though he somehow survived several crises and even when some had written his political obituaries, the ever cunning Mugabe always survived, but finally with his faculties failing and old age taking its toil the 93-year-old was left alone by his former comrades who, although they loved him, regarded him as a captured president in the arms of “counter revolutionaries”.
Mugabe was once a hero in the eyes of his people but along the way he lost support as he nurtured corruption and led to the economic implosion.
He was accused by the West of trampling on human rights and sanctions were imposed upon him in 2000 after he led a populist invasion of white-owned farms.
Since then the country’s economy took a precipitous descent, whose major highlight was record inflation that reached 9 billion around 2008/9.
Political analyst MacDonald Lewanika said at the end of the day Mugabe chose a more dignified route than the impeachment one which he was forcing people to conduct.
“Unfortunately, this resignation in light of the military intervention, expulsion from Zanu, the marches and impeachment process will be a large part of what defines his legacy,” said Lewanika.
Analyst Vivid Gwede said with Mugabe’s fall Zimbabwe has crossed the Red Sea after a long walk in the wilderness and this is the end of an era as well as the beginning of another.
“But, as we celebrate, we must reflect on what got us to where we are. A popular African proverb says a man who does not know where the rain started beating him cannot know where he dried. As Zimbabweans we must insist on full democratisation of our State and maintain the culture of holding leaders to account,” he said.