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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai says Mugabe's Party is Dead

Zimbabwean Prime Minister and Movement for Democractic Change (MDC) President Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and his wife Elizabeth greet the audience on the first day of the party's National Policy Conference in Harare, May 17, 2013.
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday declared President Robert Mugabe’s party “dead.” Tsvangirai said the African country’s next elections will be a “formality” and predicted a landslide victory.

The lead vocalist is Zimbabwe’s prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. The backing vocals are from the leadership of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party. The event Friday was not a musical program, but part of a three-day national policy conference in Harare. An estimated 500 party leaders and activists are in attendance.

Zimbabwe is preparing for polls to end the country’s fragile coalition government.

Recent voter surveys point to Tsvangirai’s popularity waning. But on Friday, he said President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party is now dead.

“So the election is a formality," said Tsvangirai. "It is a formality of saying those who believe in past policies that have destroyed this country have no chance, have no place for the future of this country.”

Tsvangirai added that violence - which marred Zimbabwe’s last election in 2008 - would not deter him from winning.

The prime minister said it was his MDC party and not Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, which can help Zimbabwe through its economic problems.

President Mugabe has rejected calls for reforms, in the nation's military and police, that are being pushed by the MDC party. Senior generals have remained loyal to Mugabe, who came to power in 1980 following the war to end colonial rule in what was then called Rhodesia.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe formed a power-sharing government in 2009 following a disputed election which regional leaders regarded as a sham. Since then, the economy has improved somewhat, but Zimbabwe has yet to return to being able to export food.

At the MDC conference, which is themed "Towards Real Transformation," Tsvangirai said the party's policies would lift Zimbabwe out of its economic problems, which have affected most parts of southern Africa. Millions of Zimbabweans are said to have fled to neighboring Botswana and South Africa, seeking better opportunities, as their country’s economy has dwindled over the past few years.