Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has told President Robert Mugabe to step down and pave way for fresh elections amid a worsening economic crisis in the southern African nation.
Zimbabwe is currently facing a critical cash shortage, massive unemployment and food insecurity, as it also battles to clear a foreign debt overhang of over $8bn.
Tsvangirai told his party supporters on Saturday at a rain-soaked rally in Harare that Mugabe should relinquish power “immediately”, saying the veteran leader was a stumbling block to the country’s economic turnaround.
“You (Mugabe) have failed so you must step down immediately to pave way for new blood. You must feel for the traumatised people of this country,” said the main opposition leader amid applause from thousands of his supporters.
For his part, Mugabe recently told some veterans of the country’s liberation war that he was not going anywhere.
Mugabe, who won the disputed 2013 polls to end a unity government he formed with Tsvangirai in 2009 following another contested plebiscite, has vowed to stay in power, saying he has an electoral mandate to govern Zimbabwe.
“If the people say continue (to lead) I will continue. If our party (Zanu-PF) says continue, I will continue,” said Mugabe.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai said he was not prepared to form another government of national unity (GNU) with Mugabe, as the country’s economy continues to shrink.
“Some people are talking about forming a second GNU; No. I am not going to be part of another GNU; what we want as the MDC are electoral reforms before the 2018 elections so that we hold elections that do not breed a predetermined outcome”.
Party of the crowd that attended the MDC rally in Harare. (Frank Chikowore, News24)
At the same time, Mugabe is battling internal fissures in his Zanu-PF party with two factions, Lacoste and Generation 40 (G40), angling to succeed him.
Lacoste is being linked to Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa while G40 is being associated with young Turks in the ruling party backing Mugabe’s wife Grace to succeed her husband. However, both Mnangagwa and First Lady have denied harbouring presidential ambitions.
As the succession question rages on while the economy continues to plunge, Tsvangirai’s party is rallying its supporters to stage street protests on November 30.
Zimbabwe police have previously crashed anti-government protests with brute force.-News24