'No reforms, no elections' policy won’t work, US tells MDC

2015-07-01 14:58
MDC Spokesperson, Obert Gutu. (Supplied)

MDC Spokesperson, Obert Gutu. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – The US has reportedly criticised Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai over his party's "No reforms, no elections" policy, saying opposition parties should take part in elections rather than complain.

The MDC pulled out of by-elections that were held on June 10, a move that resulted in President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party bagging all 16 parliamentary seats which had become vacant after Tsvangirai recalled "rebel" MPs last year.

According to New Zimbabwe.com US top diplomat Gregory Simpkins, who is part of a US Congress delegation currently in Zimbabwe as part of Washington’s efforts to normalise relations with Harare, said Tsvangirai’s party should "find a way of being effective".

"We have heard that political parties here argue that it is tough to compete in elections. But we are saying they have to find a way of being effective rather than just saying it is too tough to compete... How can you criticise a process that you are not part of, one cannot criticise a process that they have not even taken time to test," Simpkins was quoted as saying.

Home-grown political party

Simpkins said when parties lost in US elections, they did not always take to the streets or go to the courts or become angry. Instead, they would go back and prepare for the next election "and that is what you have to do".

The MDC, however, told News24 on Wednesday the US was entitled to its own opinion.

"The MDC is a home-grown political party that is not run from Washington DC. We are on the ground here in Zimbabwe and whatever decisions and resolutions we take are fully and adequately informed by the prevailing local conditions and scenarios," MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

Gutu said the resolution not to participate in any election without reforms was "carefully thought out, debated and adopted at our national congress last year".

The decision was informed by the uneven playing field where Zanu-PF routinely "rigged" elections, he claimed.

Tsvangirai has, since the formation of his party in 1999, lost all but one election. He argues that Mugabe rigs the polls using the military.

'Real deal' for people

The MDC, Gutu said, remained a strong opposition party, adding it was the "real deal" for people who wanted change in the southern African country.

"Indeed, the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai is the largest and most popular political party in Zimbabwe. We are the real deal, the only game in town. Everyone, including Robert Mugabe himself, knows that."

Gutu said the MDC would not reverse its election policy.

"We are always working very hard to package the MDC as the only viable alternative to the Zanu-PF dictatorship that is fronted by Robert Mugabe. Against all odds, the MDC has emerged as the only political party with the necessary grassroots support and gravitas to send Zanu-PF packing, provided free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe at any time," he said.

Critics, however, say support for the MDC has weakened since a coalition government was in power between 2009 and 2013.

Tsvangirai appears to have lost popularity due to perceived lack of action while he was prime minister and allegations of a messy love life ahead of his second marriage in 2012.

Read more on:    mdc  |  zanu-pf  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  robert mugabe  |  us  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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