Tsvangirai to boycott elections unless reforms made

2015-04-11 18:32
Morgan Tsvangirai. (File, AFP)

Morgan Tsvangirai. (File, AFP)

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Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party will not take part in elections until reforms are made, media reports said on Saturday.

“Unless there are reforms, participation in those by-elections would be futile,” said Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist who beat long-time leader Robert Mugabe in the first round of presidential elections in 2008 and later served as prime minister in a coalition government. His comments were carried by the official Herald daily.

Tsvangirai, 63, was quoted as saying: "We also noted that what is happening in this country will not end until the people of Zimbabwe are able to be mobilised to take action [and] pressurise government to stop all abuses."

June by-elections

The decision almost certainly means that Mugabe's Zanu-PF party will now win an extra 14 seats in parliament in by-elections due in June.

The 14 seats are among 21 won by the MDC in 2013 but declared vacant last month at the wish of Tsvangirai after the sitting MPs broke away from the main opposition party to form a smaller group calling itself MDC-Renewal.

The other seven vacant seats will not be put to a vote but will be filled by a proportional representation system.

It is believed that Tsvangirai's party is still hoping to hang onto those seats.

Tsvangirai's announcement had a mixed reaction.

Information minister Jonathan Moyo told the Herald: "You cannot say someone who is filling proportional representation seats is not participating....They are afraid of losing and humiliation as they know they cannot defend all those seats."

Player and ref

But Zimbabwean journalist and editor Kelvin Mupungu tweeted on Saturday: "Regrettably I support stance taken by MDC-T to boycott any future elections without reform. ZANU-PF is a player and ref in the same match''.

Tsvangirai was urged not to contest in the 2013 elections because many of the electoral reforms he had asked for had not been implemented, but he went on to participate and lost to Mugabe, who is now 91.

Set up in 1999, Tsvangirai's party was once the biggest challenge to Mugabe's continued hold on power. Tsvangirai was seen as a popular hero and a focus for the MDC's rallying cry of chinja or change. But his star has dimmed in recent years following damaging splits in his party, allegations of financial mismanagement during the 2009-13 coalition years and reports of a messy series of personal relationships.

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

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