Zimbabwe: Foiled At Polls, Ex-PM Hopes Economy Will Floor Mugabe

DESPITE being beaten at the polls (which he disputes), MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was upbeat Friday, rallying his troops with the promise that President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party may yet be toppled – by the economy.

The former Prime Minister addressed supporters in Chitungwiza in what the MDC-T said was part of an ongoing "national networking" campaign.

"I want to tell you that you won the 31 July election. You did not lose it, but it is Robert Mugabe who stole the election and is causing a national crisis and I will not let you down until we achieve democratic change," Tsvangirai said, according to a party statement.

The MDC-T chief lost the presidential vote by a landslide in the July 31 elections while Mugabe's Zanu PF party claimed a huge majority in Parliament.

Tsvangirai however, refuses to accept the outcome, claiming the election was rigged.

The former trade union chief has fought and lost three successive elections against Mugabe but came close to toppling the veteran leader in 2008 when he won the first round of the vote before pulling out of the run-off, claiming Zanu PF henchmen had unleashed violence against his supporters. At the time, the country's economy was near complete collapse after a recession lasting several years with runaway inflation reaching stratospheric levels of 6.5 sextillion percent, by some estimates.

Some stability and marginal recovery was achieved with the ditching of the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009 and the establishment of a coalition administration whose fractious tenure ended with the July 31 elections.

However, the MDC-T hierarchy sees what they describe as the "crisis of legitimacy" created by the "fraudulent" election adversely impacting the still sickly economy, in a development they privately expect to play into their hands.

Said Tsvangirai Friday: "Although Zanu PF stole the election, it cannot steal the economy."

He added that many people were losing jobs around the country as companies closed on a daily basis "because Zanu PF had created a national crisis (through the fraudulent vote) which has resulted in the declining of the country's economy".

The message was repeated by other top leaders in a meeting also held Friday at the party's head office in central Harare.

Said deputy president Thokozani Khupe: "I remember on 29 July at the crossover rally held in Harare telling over 100,000 people gathered that on 1 August, the people were going to work up to news that Zimbabwe had a new President, a Vice President and a new economy that will give people food, jobs and shelter.

"But on August 1, we all woke up to a nightmare – another Zanu PF electoral theft. However, the MDC is a value driven party not a power driven party like Zanu PF that would spend millions of dollars to rig an election. While they may have rigged the election, they cannot rig the economy."

National organising secretary Nelson Chamisa added: "Zanu PF knows it committed a serious electoral fraud. They are refusing to open the Mt Pleasant ballots because again, they are afraid to expose their fraud. We have a problem in Zimbabwe.

"Because of the fraud, they do not have an answer to the water and electricity challenges. Up to date we have no budget, the available government seed is given on a partisan basis and industries are closing. This is not the behaviour of a national government."

Tsvangirai insisted that another debilitating economic crisis could only be avoided if "key reforms (are) put in place and the country (moves) on by holding fresh, free and fair elections."