Tsvangirai rips into First Family


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ZIMBABWE – MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday threatened to boycott the 2018 elections if President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF continue to use violence. 

He accused First Lady Grace Mugabe of inciting the current wave of political violence for declaring some places such as Mashonaland Central as “no-go areas” for the opposition.

Tsvangirai’s comments came as Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo warned political parties to desist from violence and attacking police officers. He also warned journalists against writing negatively about the First Family.

Addressing journalists in the capital at the relaunch of the MDC-T mouthpiece, Real Change Times, Tsvangirai accused the First Family – in particular Grace – of inciting the current wave of violence, saying if it persisted, his party had no option but to boycott the 2018 elections.

He said if that happened, it would then be proper to declare Zimbabwe a one-party State.

“Without conditions for free and fair elections, I am afraid we won’t participate or think of taking part in an election where violence is the yardstick,” the MDC-T leader said.

“If they want to rule by violence, let them say so, so we know we are under a one-party State.”

Tsvangirai said violation of media freedom and violence, allegedly being perpetrated by Zanu PF supporters, were not good for the country’s image and efforts to turn around the economy.

“ . . . but the First Lady herself is declaring that other areas are no-go areas. You can’t declare certain areas to be no-go areas. If the First Family incites violence, what are we as ordinary people going to do about that?” he queried.

Tsvangirai said his party was being blocked from holding rallies in Harare South by ruling party officials trying to convince their leaders that they were more Zanu PF than the other because of their ability to unleash violence on opponents.

He described former Zanu PF Harare youth chairman Jim Kunaka as a “Latter-day Saint” and that the violence in Mbare was premised on who would succeed him. Tsvangirai paid tribute to the private media for striving to tell the true story.

He said several opposition political parties were in agreement on the need for reforms to create a country with an environment conducive for free and legitimate expression by the people.

The former Prime Minister said a “big announcement” by a united force would be made soon.

“Very soon, we will be converging in our diversity to announce to the nation a united way forward as a broad democratic movement. At least we owe it to the nation,” he said.

“The shenanigans we witnessed in the by-elections held early this year, the violence in Hurungwe West, the recent violence against MDC-T by Zanu PF thugs in the presence of the police — all point to a poisoned environment that needs to be addressed if the people are to be allowed to fully express themselves at the next election, whenever it will be held.”

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba was not answering his phone yesterday.

But Chombo said while Zimbabwe was a democratic country, there was no absolute freedom.

“The police cannot and will not tolerate any violent behaviour or misconduct that disturbs the much-needed peace and tranquillity,” he said at a Press conference last night.

“In this regard, I wish to send a strong warning that we will deal with anyone who throw stones and missiles towards the police.”

The Home Affairs minister took aim at journalists, accusing them of writing falsehoods against the First Family, saying such deeds would not go unpunished.

“The reckless stories are meant to unashamedly attack the President and the First Family in their private and personal capacities. Let me urge you all that you have a responsibility to report truthfully, factually and avoid sensationalisation of stories,” he said.

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