MDC: Mugabe preparing for violence

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai declared himself the clear winner on Saturday of a presidential election and accused Robert Mugabe’s ruling party of preparing for a “war” against the people.

“The result is known, that the Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] won the presidential and parliamentary election. President Mugabe and the Zanu-PF should accept the results,” Tsvangirai told reporters in his first declaration that he had won at the first attempt.

“The MDC won the election and will not accept the suppression of the will of the people,” he said.

While the MDC has already been declared the winner of last Saturday’s parliamentary elections, the official result of a simultaneous presidential election has yet to be declared.

However, the Zanu-PF has already effectively conceded that Mugabe did not win an outright victory over Tsvangirai by endorsing him to stand in a run-off.

The MDC and the ruling party each won 30 of the 60 seats in elections to the largely ceremonial senate upper House of Parliament, according to final electoral commission results on Saturday.

Twenty-four of the opposition senators are loyal to the MDC’s Tsvangirai but six are members of a splinter faction.

The other 30 senators are members of the Zanu-PF.

Tsvangirai said he feared the Zanu-PF was gearing up for what he called a “war” against the people.

“Zanu-PF is preparing a war against the people of Zimbabwe such as we witnessed in 2000,” when Mugabe failed to win backing in a referendum for a broadening of his powers.

Shortly after that result, Mugabe loyalists embarked on a series of invasions of white-owned farms after accusing the farmers of persuading their workers to vote against the president’s proposals.

“Thousands of army recruits are being recruited in militias and the Reserve Bank’s printing presses are in overdrive, printing for bribery activities,” Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai, who suffered head injuries when he was assaulted by the police in March last year, proffered an olive branch both to Mugabe and his security services.

“I want to assure those serving in state institutions, in particular those in the army, the police, that their jobs are safe, that there will be no retribution or vindictiveness.

“I want to say to President Robert Mugabe: ‘Please rest your mind, the new Zimbabwe guarantees your safety’.”

Tsvangirai said he would like to engage Mugabe in talks to ensure a smooth transition of power.

“I am calling on President Mugabe to begin a dialogue with me, to begin the process of a peaceful, orderly and democratic transition,” Tsvangirai said.

“In making this call, I believe it is in the interests of the people and the future of this country not to create conditions of anxiety and instability.”

There was also an assurance for veterans of the country’s 1970s liberation war, who were at the vanguard of the farm invasions, that they had nothing to fear from an MDC administration.

“I want to say to war veterans, their pensions are safe and we acknowledge the role they played during the liberation struggle,” he said.

“I want to say to those on the land that no land will be taken away from people, save when we rationalise against multiple farm ownership and neglected and derelict land.”

World leaders call for observers

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and fellow centre-left world leaders called on Saturday for Zimbabwe’s election results to be published and for international monitors to oversee any run-off.

Speaking after a conference on political governance near London, Brown said: “In addition to us saying that the results should not be delayed, we are determined that … there are international observers if there is a second round.”

Brown said that a number of African leaders, including South African President Thabo Mbeki, who stood alongside him at the news conference, backed the call for international observers if the contested elections in Zimbabwe go to a second round.

“I talked, in addition to President Mbeki, to President [Yoweri] Museveni in Uganda and to President [Jakaya] Kikwete, who is head of the African Union,” Brown said.

“The determination of everybody is that not only are results not delayed where that is unnecessary but equally that the results are seen to be fair and that requires the observers we’ve just been talking about.”

Mbeki said in London he believed both Mugabe and the opposition were prepared to hold a second round of voting.

“Both Tsvangirai and Mugabe have said in the event that nobody has got this majority that’s needed to be elected, they are quite ready for a second round,” he said.

Brown and Mbeki were speaking after a meeting of leaders including Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Ghana President John Kufuor. — AFP

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