MDC seeks revival ahead of Zim elections

2011-04-29 11:42

Bulawayo – Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s will shake up the top leadership of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party at a congress starting today, seeking to strengthen its base as it prepares for another fight to unseat President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe, forced into a unity government with rival Tsvangirai after a disputed election in 2008 marred by violence, has called for a fresh vote this year as he aims to rule without the MDC.

MDC officials have said an election this year would violate terms of the unity government and could lead to a bloodbath that would end a nascent recovery in the impoverished state.

Tsvangirai, whose leadership is not being challenged, will use the two-day congress to try heal a party hit by internal fights over posts and reassure supporters he is still capable of ending Mugabe’s three decades in office, officials said.

“This is a watershed congress which will show the world that we are united and ready to end dictatorship,” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

But results of a survey in Zimbabwe by US-based research body Freedom House released in March showed that MDC support had dropped to 38% last year from 55% in 2009.

This compared to Mugabe’s Zanu-PF’s popularity, which increased to 17% in 2010 from 12% in 2009.

The power-sharing government formed in 2009 has stabilised an economy crushed by hyperinflation about three years ago, but it has been hit by squabbles over top posts and reforms.

Mugabe has worried overseas investors in the resource-rich state by pressing ahead with plans to force foreign mining companies in Zimbabwe to surrender 51% of their local equity to blacks in the country in the next six months.

Mugabe (87) may be doing this because he needs cash quickly to help him fund his campaign as he tries to defeat the MDC in the poll, analysts said. 

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