Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has called the arrest and sudden release yesterday of its leader and presidential candidate as a cowardly act ahead of this month’s presidential run-off election. Morgan Tsvangirai and other leading MDC officials were arrested and questioned by police. But the police released Tsvangirai Wednesday night without charging him with any crime. This comes after the United States and other European Countries demanded Tsvangirai’s immediate release.
Some political analysts say Tsvangirai’s arrest is a highlight of a mountain of obstacles facing the MDC ahead of the run-off. The MDC, however, accused the government of using the arrest among other tactics to intimidate and weaken the opposition. Nelson Chamisa is the spokesman for the MDC. From the capital, Harare he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the opposition is resolved to win the run-off despite the challenges it faces.
“Yesterday the president was arrested and until late in the evening he was not released. In fact we are in the process of trying to get the facts as to why they detained him and also how they are going to determine the certain future of the president and in deed other members of the team traveling with him. But it’s a clear indication of the danger that is now associated with the politics in Zimbabwe where people cannot move freely, and where people cannot campaign freely more so the president of the opposition Mr. Tsvangirai,” Chamisa pointed out.
He denied Tsvangirai’s arrest is related to the recent treason charges leveled against Tsvangirai by partisans of the ruling ZANU-PF.
“Certainly not. This is clearly a habit of the security forces in the country, the police force in particular. There is no reason why politics should spill over to our state institutions. This is a contest between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai, we believe it is a contest of ideas and that should define how the contest between the two is supposed to be configured,” he said.
Chamisa described recent attacks on partisans of the opposition MDC as unfortunate.
“What is disturbing is that Mr. Tsvangirai was going about carrying out peaceful campaign in rural Matabeleland when they just stopped them along the way. Clearly we see ZANU-PF hand, clearly there is an attempt to try and derail our campaign to render the whole campaign process comatose,” Chamisa noted.
He said leaders of the opposition are ready to sacrifice themselves towards a democratic paradigm shift in Zimbabwe.
“We are aware of the consequences; we are aware of the risks the challenges and the dangers. So, we are not under any illusions as to what is likely to befall us. We are prepared to part with life just for one course to make sure that our country is prosperous, is a democracy and it is also free, a free nation. That is what motivates each and everyone of us,” he said.
Chamisa vowed the MDC would defeat the ruling ZANU-PF government in the June 27 presidential run-off election.
“You know that violence is the language of the weak. We stand on very strong legs, moral and politically. And the fact that ZANU-PF has resorted to violence, to autocracy, to authoritarian approaches clearly indicates that they are standing on a very weak legs, very temporal legs, which are going to collapse very soon. And we know that the darkest hour is before dawn, so we have to endure the darkness, but down is coming. After 27 years we hope to form the next government in this country. Of course they will try to resist, but ultimately the will of the people would have to prevail,” Chamisa pointed out.