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Zimbabwe’s Opposition MDC Dismisses Tsvangirai Treason Charge

Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has described as a blistering attempt by President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF to finally silence the party. The MDC said the government was doing all in its power to thwart the wishes of Zimbabwe voters for its failure to release the results of the March 29 presidential elections results.

The accusation comes after the government accused opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of treason, saying he conspired with colonial power Britain to force a regime change in Zimbabwe. But the MDC dismissed the treason charge claiming it is yet another attempt by the government to perpetuate President Mugabe’s grip on power.

Mark Fungano is a Zimbabwean political analyst with the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the treason accusation is preposterous.

“Firstly, I will like to say anything that comes from the ZANU-PF government does not have credibility, and the people of Zimbabwe will not buy it. The activities of the ZANU-PF by claiming that Morgan has done some treasonous acts should be viewed as a sideshow trying to distract people from the real issues of the government that has failed to declare the results that is muzzling the voice of the people. So, the issue of treason I think should be viewed in accordance of previous cases… all the other cases where they have taken Morgan to court and he has been found not guilty,” Fungano noted.

He said the treason charge being leveled against the MDC leader by the government is intended to further complicate matters for the opposition.

“I think what ZANU-PF is simply trying to do is add one issue on the negotiating table. The moment Morgan is charged, it will be one of the negotiating issues, and obviously people would be distracted from the results issue and they are going to focus on trying to get the charges dropped. And also what they are simply trying to do is try to create fatigue within the opposition, there would be more court appearances, more lawyers being involved, and I think this is meant to over stretch them,” he said.

Fungano said although the opposition finds itself in a difficult position, it must not give up fighting.

“I think this is a struggle and it is a struggle where sacrifices have to be made. If Morgan Tsvangirai decides to go back to Zimbabwe and they put him into prison, yes he will appear as a martyr, but unfortunately the people of Zimbabwe will not be able to march to get him to be released. And I think we can look at it as one man down,” Fungano pointed out.

He said it was unfortunate the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) could not help to resolve Zimbabwe’s political impasse.

“They (opposition) can’t be able to rally support from SADC and other regional organization who have been disappointing us. But I don’t think there is anything that they can simply do other than privately condemning him and publicly standing side by side with him. So, I don’t think there are too many options for the opposition. I think what they might do, which might not be the less attractive option is to try and keep him out of the country and avoid him being in prison,” he said.

He concurred that pronouncements by some western officials have made matters difficult for the opposition MDC in its quest to wrestle power from President Mugabe.

“Yes it does make things difficult because I think they are further reinforcing the agenda that there is foreign interest within Zimbabwe. And I think what they simply need to do is to be cautious in their statements and what they bring out in their public domain because at the end of the day I think that in itself gives credence to Mugabe to say … some countries are going to ensure that as soon as I leave power they will come in and take land, which is outrageous and nonsense,” he said.