afrol News, 25 February - Morgan Tsvangirai, favourite to Zimbabwean presidential elections on 9-10 March and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), today was informed he would face charges of high of treason when he was questioned at Central Harare Police Station.
Tsvangirai today was brought to the police station and was interrogated for two hours, but later released. The MDC leader's lawyer, Innocent Chagonda, said his client was to face charges of high treason over his alleged plot to "eliminate" President Robert Mugabe. High treason is punishable by death in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai however said he had reason to believe police would not proceed with a prosecution before the election.
A special edition last week of Australian SBS Dateline titled 'Killing Mugabe - The Tsvangirai Conspiracy,' claimed to "present evidence that the opposition leader has had no intention of letting the electoral process take its course. While parading his supposed democratic credentials, Mr Tsvangirai has in fact, been plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe," the SBS presentation of its documentary says.
Tsvangirai rejected these accusations, claiming the video showing himself and several Canadian consultants discussing what is to happen in Zimbabwe after "the head of state has been eliminated" had been a trap set up by the Zimbabwean government. Indeed, the Canadians suddenly "from nowhere introduced discussion around the issue of elimination," moving him to "burst out of their meeting," Tsvangirai declared last week. The MDC later found the Canadian company had contacts with ZANU-PF, Zimbabwe's ruling party.
The MDC feels it is subjected to several "smear campaigns" by the government and the government controlled press. State television and the government-run daily 'The Herald' have reported intensely on the alleged "elimination plot". 'The Herald' lately also has launched a set of conspiracy theories, where the MDC is collaborating with the much hated British government and white, racist elements to topple Mugabe after "Mugabe's widely expected victory."
After Mugabe's victory, "waves of violence" would be instigated from three sites "where the MDC has sought to establish military training camps under the guise of refugee camps," according to 'The Herald'. The "British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Mr Brian Donnelly, is masterminding the plan."
In the eyes of the MDC, the high treason "trap" by the government is just one of many strategies to hinder the free and fair organisation of the approaching presidential elections. "I have no doubt that President Mugabe will do his utmost to fix the outcome of the election ahead and that he will try and cheat," Tsvangirai recently told a South African publication.
- Conditions are hostile towards the opposition. We don't have sufficient access to the media; our rallies are disrupted and our offices attacked, the MDC leader added. "Yet, I'm very confident that we will win, despite stumbling blocks, and that millions of voters will arrive at the polls to exercise their choice."
According to recent polls in Zimbabwe, voters indeed prefer the MDC team governing the country. The confidence in Tsvangirai almost doubled the support expressed for Mugabe. The most striking message in the poll was, however, was its indication of "the climate of fear that has gripped the country," according to analyst Charles Rukuni from 'The Insider'. While Tsvangirai was leading the poll with only 19.8 percent of the vote and Mugabe got at a meagre 11.3 percent, "a staggering 59.7 percent refused to disclose their opinion."
The "climate of fear" seems to be the government's main strategy in the electoral campaign. The MDC's continuous reports of violence initiated by ZANU-PF supporters protected by the police this weekend were confirmed by the international election observers stationed in the country.
The observers themselves had come under attack by ruling party supporters at the weekend. The leader of a South African mission observing the presidential election campaign, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, today officially demanded police protection following attacks on her staff yesterday.
Another government trick to win the elections was denounced by the MDC yesterday. According to a party statement, the government had "slashed the number of polling stations in MDC strongholds and increased them in perceived ZANU-PF strongholds."
- Clearly this is another ZANU-PF ploy to disfranchise that section of the people of Zimbabwe who are seen as opposed to ZANU-PF in this election, said MDC Secretary Learnmore Jongwe. "The strategy is carefully designed to produce long queues in MDC strongholds, slow down the voting process and frustrate the people in these areas so they do not vote. It is for the same reason that mayoral elections in Harare and Chitungwiza are taking place on the same day as the presidential poll."
Sources: Based on MDC, press reports and afrol archives
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