Zimbabwe Elections: Tsvangirai Calls For Peacekeeping Force
Chitungwiza, - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday called for a peacekeeping force before elections after a constitutional process has been undertaken while his political rival President Robert Mugabe has called for an end to violence
Tsvangirai, who withdrew from a second round of presidential elections in 2008, after winning the first round citing violence, was speaking at his party’s rally in the satellite town of Chitungwiza. The MDC claims that more than 200 of its members died in the widespread violence.
Mugabe was speaking at a Methodist Service Church in Harare to commemorate Tsvangira's late wife, Susan who died in a car crash last year.
Under the terms of the agreement that formed the transitional government, the country must hold elections after 24 months.
“We agreed that within the next 18-24 months we go for elections, so far we have gone through the first year," said Tsvangirai. "We don’t want a violent election but an environment for a free and fair election where a loser accepts defeat and allows the winner to take over. We are not afraid of going for an election. I hear reports about violence about houses being burnt. We have to stop the violence before the election.”
“Let’s bring in foreign observers. Why don’t we have a peace keeping force so that everyone is going to exercise their democratic rights. Why don’t we have a peacekeeping force so that we have peace and stability before we conduct an election. If we can’t do it ourselves let's use SADC and AU to create that environment for a free and fair election,” he added.
Tsvangirai called for a conclusion to the interparty talks saying his party was putting measures to ensure that the talks are concluded.
We are sick and tired of endless talks,” he said. “We shall take measures that there will be no more dialogue for dialogue’s sake. We are a country in a transition, so get ready for elections.”
Zimbabwe may hold elections next elections, but no date has been set. Last week, Mugabe told reporters that he will be his party’s candidate for the elections.
Mugabe meanwhile said on Sunday political violence was an uncivilized way of resolving political violence and should not be tolerated.
His statement comes amid reports that the state is deploying its officials and Zanu PF militia to crack down on MDC sympathizers as the country prepares a probable poll next year.
Addressing hundreds of people from all walks of life attending a memorial service for Tsvangirai’s late wife, Susan, Mugabe said all political parties should urgently educate their supporters that political violence was counter-productive.
“Before the political coats we are wearing we are human beings first and humanity precedes politics. We want all politicians to go to the grass roots and spread the gospel of peace.
I’m glad that at our levels we have been tolerant but that has not reached the grass roots. We must respect our humanity and realize that we can have our political differences, but we are still Zimbabweans. Politics come and go but our ubuntu remains. We have one common denominator, we are one people and we are grateful for that,” said the President.
Highly placed sources in the Zimbabwe Defence forces said that the Zimbabwe’s dreaded Joint Operations Command (JOC) was planning to unleash violence on Movement for Democratic Change sympathizers starting in July after the World Cup Soccer Show case to be hosted by South Africa.
JOC remains operational despite the formation of the Inclusive government which replaces it with the Security Council.
JOC is made up of the dreaded CIO, Police Intelligence Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Military Intelligence and Zimbabwe Prison Service and senior ZANU-PF officials.
To confirm that JOC is still in place last week its members visited the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) and quizzed the union officials for producing a comprehensive documentary exposing atrocities caused by war vets to former white commercial farmers during the controversial land reform.
The Union's leader, Gertrude Hambira, has since fled to South Africa.
The civic society has since issued a statement condemning the continued existence of JOC saying it should be dismantled because it is not constitutional.