In a surprise show of unity with Zanu-PF, MDC politicians last week approved constitutional reforms which provide for joint parliamentary and presidential polls next year and redrawing constituency boundaries.

Tsvangirai was addressing supporters on Saturday at a rally in the southern city of Masvingo to celebrate the MDC's eight anniversary of what it calls "unarmed combat against the dictatorship."

Tsvangirai said it was encouraging that Zanu-PF had agreed to hold talks with the opposition and that regional leaders now recognised that the country was suffering from "a crisis of governance".

"Morgan Tsvangirai is not threatening not to participate [in elections], but he is talking of a position in which the MDC would not participate if repression is still continuing," Julius Mutyambizi-Dewa, secretary for the MDC's UK and Ireland branch, told Al Jazeera.

"The MDC leader is saying that there is not point in participating and legitimising the outcome of the elections."
 

Tzvangirai's support base is the largest of the
two MDC factions

Haru Mutasa, Al Jazeera's correspondent at the anniversary rally in Masvingo, said that while Tsvangirai promised to remove Mugabe from office and end the intimidation of opposition supporters he gave little indication of how.

The MDC's chance of removing Mugabe from power have also been dealt a blow by internal bickering within the movement that had previously provided the stiffest opposition to Mugabe during his long tenure.

Internal split

The 4,000 supporters that turned up to the MDC anniversary rally were invited by Tsvangirai's side.

Supporters of Arthur Mutambara, president of a breakaway faction of the MDC, were not present.

Many analysts say that the resistance will be worthless should real change fail to take place en route to and beyond the elections due to be held next year.

"You are looking at a very vicious regime, with a determination to stay in power," John Makumbe, a political analyst from the University of Zimbabwe, said.

"But it is also desperate, because it has committed so many sins in the past, it will move heaven and earth in order to stay in power."

Because of this, some have given up on any chance of any faction of the MDC winning an election in 2008.

Joseph Kurebwa, a political analyst from Zimbabwe, said: "They don't stand a ghost of a chance. Even if they were to go to the polls united, they would still face huge hurdles.

"Now that they are split, that will significantly reduce their electoral chances," he said.

Tolerance

Many say the MDC need a change of strategy, and that they are tired of talk about change. They now want to see life get better.

Mutyambizi-Dewa said, the split in the MDC and the decision to talk with Zanu-PF was a sign that the political climate was altering in Zimbabwe.

"The internal dynamics of the MDC have been inherent for some time, people are begining to see that it was a necessity for the party to have two formations, because of the difference between ideology and approach," he said.

"The good thing about that is the two formations are beginning to respect each other ... and it is a good thing for Zimbabwe. What Zimbabweans have always been calling for is tolerance of political parties."

Al Jazeera is the only international broadcaster with a permanent presence in Zimbabwe.