Tsvangirai hints at anti-Mugabe protests

Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday said his party could roll out protests against President Robert Mugabe's government over its inability to improve a flagging economy.

Tsvangirai has led the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) since 1999 and in April he sacked his secretary general who was calling for him to step down after losing a third election to Mugabe in 2013, which some Western observers said was rigged.

Tsvangirai, a former trade union leader, said the country had an unsustainably high unemployment rate, estimated above 80%, which forced many people into informal employment.

After posting strong growth during four years of Mugabe and Tsvangirai's unity government between 2009-2013, the economy is suffering a dollar crunch due to lack of foreign investment, forcing many firms to shut down or keep workers without pay.

"We are going to mobilise. The form and content is left to the MDC to plan and execute," Tsvangirai told journalists.

Heavy police and military resistance

A senior MDC official told Reuters mass protests were "very much an option".

Previous anti-Mugabe protests, the last one in 2007, have been met by a heavy police and military resistance, but Tsvangirai said the veteran leader would be making a mistake by setting security forces against the public.

"Let him be warned that if we cannot live as free men and women in our country of birth, we will rather die as free people," said Tsvangirai.

But Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said Zimbabwe's security forces would deal with any protests.

"We have our security forces which are fully equipped to deal with that, so we are not worried about anything," Gumbo told Reuters.

Future elections

Tsvangirai warned leaders of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC), in a letter seen by Reuters on Friday, that they should "take seriously our position on the developments in this country, which developments are slowly gravitating towards an inevitable implosion".

"We in the MDC are drawing a line in the sand and we hereby inform our colleagues in SADC, well in advance, that the people of Zimbabwe shall be writing their own script for an endgame to the struggle for freedom and democracy," he said.

Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, began a year-long run as SADC chairperson last week.

Tsvangirai, who ran in the last election under a cloud of sex scandals, said his party would not participate in future elections until there were changes to the rules as well as a credible voter register. The next elections are in 2018.

Fear has largely undermined previous efforts by the opposition to confront Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and it is unclear if the MDC can convince the public to mobilise, political analysts say.

Nukesta 2014/08/22 03:01:00 PM
I'm blue dub-a-dee dub-a-dai
Akhenaten 2014/08/22 03:02:07 PM
You need to eliminate the man first before you start protesting, otherwise a lot of people are going to die and the people of Zimbabwe went through enough hell already.
Tatenda Patience Mlambo-Mahleko 2014/08/22 03:14:38 PM
Tsvangirai please do shut up, you have failed so many times!!!!
Bheki Ndlovu 2014/08/22 03:19:27 PM
as an individual who served in the security forces of zimbabwe i urge zimbabweans nt to commit suicide by engaging in protests coz killing a protester is in chapter 1 of the armed forces syllubus in that country.
Sizwe Shozi 2014/08/22 03:24:32 PM
ewu that pic...
Patrick George Mihalopoulos 2014/08/22 03:30:14 PM
Yes you must start the big "PUSH" now and topple the Madala before the Grabbing Grace throws a big Anchor?
G man 2014/08/22 03:30:34 PM
"Look at Zimbabwe - they're doing quite well." - Julius Malema.
David F Mashaba 2014/08/22 03:35:16 PM
mugabe must go the zimbabwean army can be defeated militarily zanu pf thugs have destroyed zim economy zanu pf have committed war crimes in bulawayo zimbabwe is not for zanu pf they can kill but zanu will finaly fall God is alive
Andrew Stockton 2014/08/22 04:16:08 PM
... He's been promising this for 20 years and ... Nothing ... ?
On The Edge 2014/08/22 05:01:33 PM
Gorilla in the mist... kuk picture...!