|Tsvangirai’s party alleges that their supporters have been intimidated by Zanu-PF loyalists [AFP]|
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has pulled out of a run-off election for the country’s presidency, saying that his supporters are facing violent intimidation by loyalists of incumbent Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.
The MDC says that at least 80 of its supporters have been killed and 200,000 others forced from their homes by Zanu-PF supporters – claims denied by Mugabe.
Haru Mutasa, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Zimbabwe, talked to Morgan Tsvangirai about his decision to boycott the June 27 vote and how he sees the future of his party and country.
Haru Mutasa: You have just announced that you are not going to take part in the run-off election for the Zimbabwean presidency. How do you think your supporters will react?
Morgan Tsvangirai: I think our supporters will support this decision, because our council is a representative of all the provinces at the grass roots level.
They are the ones we have to confront with this – on a daily basis they have to live with this violence [allegedly carried out by Mugabe’s supporters].
Therefore, when we took this decision, it was really an informed decision. I think it is in the best interests of our people.
What about those who say you are giving Mugabe an easy victory?
We are not giving victory to anyone.
In fact, if we were to proceed to an election it would satisfy Robert Mugabe because he would be able to claim legitimacy.
But if we withdraw because the conditions are so compelling, then he will have a hollow victory to claim.
For us, we won the election on March 29. What he is now doing, to declare war – we will not be a part of it.
What is next for the MDC – what is your strategy now?
Our basic strategy is to inform our people that this is the way we are going to go.
I think everyone agrees that these elections are not acceptable. We will be able to mobilize international opinion on that basis.
Have you ever considered a government of national unity with Zanu-PF?
Everyone is suggesting there is almost an unclaimed momentum around a government of national unity. I don’t know about it.
No-one has discussed with me nor with the party about the possible proposals.
We have never said we are not keen to hold negotiations and we are not keen to accommodate Zanu-PF, or to cohabit with Zanu-PF. We never said that.
For the good of the country we need a transitional mechanism that is going to take the country to a more stable [situation]. But no-one is coming forward with specific proposals to say “look, this is the crisis we are facing”.
If we have to end [the crisis] in order to create the necessary stability, I think there is a need to co-exist and co-operate.