afrol News, 18 March - Reconciling statements by President Mugabe and suggestions of a government of national unity have been turned down by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. As "massive election fraud" is uncovered, Tsvangirai sets democracy as a prerequisite for "the nation to heal" from conflict.
The presidents of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, and of Malawi, Bakili Muluzi, yesterday witnessed the inauguration of President Robert Mugabe at State House, Harare. After the ceremony, they took contact with the leader of the MDC opposition party, Tsvangirai, proposing he should set for a government of national unity with the President's party, ZANU-PF. Also Mugabe, in his inauguration speech, said ZANU-PF and MDC should now start cooperating. "Our energies and capabilities are surely better spent on constructive people-oriented tasks and programmes than on planning and plotting the downfall of each other," Mugabe said.
Tsvangirai however was not ready for putting aside the controversial election yet. On the same day, new Zimbabwean data gave proof to the widespread allegations of election fraud. As a result, the MDC election directorate is stepping up its campaign to contest the outcome of last weekend's presidential poll.
Figures for the presidential election announced by the Zimbabwean Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, do not tally with the official poll data provided by the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), the independent Zimbabwean newspaper 'Daily News' today reported.
Welshman Ncube, Secretary-General of the MDC, yesterday confirmed the anomaly and said the discrepancy in the figures was disturbing. "It is clear from the conflicting figures that about half a million votes from nowhere went to ZANU-PF," Ncube said. Mugabe officially won the poll by 360,000 votes.
The MDC however does not accept the result of the election, referring to that at least 360,000 voters were not allowed to cast their vote in the country's three biggest cities, Harare, Bulawayo and Chitungwiza, MDC strongholds. The abnormalities of the conflicting figures only add strength to the MDC's claim the poll had been "stolen" by Mugabe.
The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, thus turned down the invitations by Mugabe and his allied presidents, Chissano and Muluzi. Tsvangirai said, he had told the Mozambican and Malawian presidents there were conflicting reports over the recent presidential election. Instead, he wanted a rerun of the presidential elections, under the supervision and observation of the international community.
- It is time for the nation to heal, Tsvangirai said, "but there is no way it can be healed without democracy. Mugabe may have the power, but he does not have the confidence of the nation," the MDC leader added.
Mozambican President Chissano however said he and Muluzi had achieved something in their meeting with Tsvangirai. "He said he will not do anything to jeopardise the Zimbabwean people, although he does not agree with the outcome of the election," Chissano reported on the meeting.
Also President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria are supposed to meet President Mugabe and the MDC leader later today. These two African leaders are to obverse the situation in Zimbabwe before they are to discuss possible sanctions tomorrow with a third Commonwealth member, Australia.
Mbeki and Obasanjo will meet Australian Prime Minister John Howard in London tomorrow. The results of the discussion of this Commonwealth troika are however more or less given in advance. Nigeria and South Africa have given strong signals they will back Mugabe's Zimbabwe at any price, while Australia is outraged over the recent elections. President Mbeki's first statement on the Zimbabwean elections was; "The will of the people of Zimbabwe has prevailed."
As he left for the London meeting, Australian PM Howard said this was "quite a moment of truth. The Commonwealth has been held together by a number of things and one of them has been a common commitment to democracy." Commonwealth election observers have issued an interim report, strongly condemning Zimbabwe's election.
While President Mugabe asked for national reconciliation, his followers however stepped up violence and intimidation across the nation. Human rights observers are strongly concerned by reports of detentions and torture of opposition followers by ZANU-PF militants. The police reportedly have instructions not to intervene.
There have also been reports of a further victim to the illegal farm occupations, initiated by Mugabe and his followers, the so-called "war veterans". One farmer was killed near his farm early on Monday, apparently while trying to escape an attack by "war veterans", the Commercial Farmers' Union informed. The farmer had been shot in his head; execution-style.
At his inauguration speech, President Mugabe on the other hand promised he would accelerate his controversial programme of land reform. Mugabe claimed this would overcome the drawbacks of the drought and increase production. "Land reform is not merely an exercise in rectifying a monstrous colonial injustice," he said, it was also an opportunity for economic empowerment, increasing agricultural production, creating employment, assuring permanent food security and expanding the domestic economic base.