By Daniel Chigundu
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called on African leaders to flex their muscles and help drive Zimbabwe towards stability and democracy ahead of the 2018 general elections.
Zimbabwe is set to go for what has been termed “watershed-elections” in 2018 and most opposition parties in the country fear that there might be political violence and vote rigging by the ruling party.
Since 2000 the ruling Zanu PF has been accused of rigging elections using various means that range from violence, manipulation of boundaries, fear and even engaging a diversified and sophisticated Israeli company called NIKUV to temper with the electoral systems.
Although there is no concrete evidence to prove the hand of NIKUV in elections, Tsvangirai in his Africa Day message said the continent’s leaders must feel obliged to ensure people’s free will is expressed in 2018.
“It is in that spirit of African solidarity that it behoves upon me on this great day to appeal to the people and the leaders of Africa to keep Zimbabwe in their prayers and to feel obliged to continue to redirect us towards stability, inclusivity, growth and democracy.
“As Zimbabwe braces for a watershed election next year, Africa must be in solidarity with the Zimbabwean people and not necessarily with the Zimbabwean leadership.
“Given our history of violence and disputed elections, we pray for once that the rest of Africa will support all efforts for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe in the run-up to 2018. Africa has done it before and we trust that they will be with us again next year to ensure that the people’s will is freely expressed, respected and guaranteed,” the veteran opposition leader said.
According to Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe has a leader who is in the sunset of his life; a national and continental hero who played a huge part in the development of this country and the continent but who has now turned into a villain through his misdirected leadership that has since started eroding his own legacy.
He said the President’s age and his long stay in office, has turned his leadership into an alarming stretch of diminishing returns, which has seen the country now hanging precariously on the precipice of almost being a failed State.
The MDC-T leader added that African leaders have a duty to save the future of the young generations in Zimbabwe.
“My plea today is to plead with Africa to support a democratic transition in Zimbabwe for the sake of its people, particularly the young generation that faces a bleak and doomed future if we don’t start on an even keel next year,” added Tsvangirai.
The trade unionist called on AU leadership to support domestic efforts for a truly free, fair, genuine and credible election so that millions of Zimbabweans who are in the diaspora can come back home.
Zimbabwe has an estimated two million citizens working in the diaspora, the majority of them being UK and South Africa.
Tsvangirai who has contested against President Mugabe in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2013, and has failed to disposes him of the country’s Presidency believes only free and fair elections will deliver a credible leader for the country.
“Yes, Africa needs to support Zimbabwe’s quest for free and fair elections. Only free, fair and credible elections will yield a credible leadership with uncontested legitimacy that can begin to transact the business of the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Morgan Tsvangirai has said in commemorating Africa Day, the people of Africa must take time to reflect on the vision of the continent’s founding fathers.
“Today, we must reflect on the vision of the founding fathers who gathered to form the Organization of African Unity in 1963, which we transformed into the African Union and has scored some successes and met with challenges in other areas.
“Indeed, we have had an odd mixture of both proud and sorry moments but today is a day to celebrate our achievements and the numerous challenges we have surmounted to become the continent of hope that we are today.
“Firstly, given the continent’s vast mineral wealth and its wide base of natural resources, it is without any rationality and justification that we must continue to have such poverty among ourselves. Notwithstanding the great strides we are making as a continent, it is true that our ruling elites have pillaged national resources while many in our communities, especially women and children, continue to live in abject poverty, surviving on less than US$1 a day. This is unforgivable especially given the vast wealth our great continent enjoys.
“Africa’s wealth must benefit the simple and the ordinary who continue to be hewers of wood and drawers of water while the ruling elite enjoy the fruits, nay the tree, of our vast wealth,” he said.
Africa Day is commemorated on the 25th of May every year.-