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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Demands Level Playing Field in Election Run-off


Supporters of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party have described the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party as a coward. This comes after Morgan Tsvangirai declared he would be part of an election run-off if there were a level playing field, which would lead to a free and fair election.

But ZANU-PF supporters say Tsvangirai is incapable of solving the country’s problems, as he is promising. Tsvangirai claimed he won over fifty percent of the March 29 presidential vote, which results are yet to be released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Mark Fungano is a Zimbabwean political analyst with the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the opposition leader is caught between a rock and a hard place.

“I think the way we should look at the response from Morgan Tsvangirai is that we should look at it in the context of an opposition that has perpetually been forced into a corner and has remained with very little option available to deal with the dictatorship in Zimbabwe. And for him to be vacillating to say I’m going to participate or I’m not going to participate simply begs of the fact that he has got limited choices; we have tried the legal route, we have tried the regional route and ZANU-PF does not appear to be yielding to any of those because it has thrown all the rules of engagement outside the window. And what they simply want is to go for an election that is going to predict them as the winner,” Fungano noted.

He said the leader of the opposition finds himself in an awkward position.

“The challenge for Morgan is that other than the election, yes they are shifting from that position, but I think we should look at the flip side to say what option does he have. There was strike that was called yesterday for people to stay at home, how was the response? And I think for him as a leader he has to be able to say okay fine, if this does not work, if initially the people of Zimbabwe were able to use the ballot box as the only alternative for them to express the disgruntlement towards the ZANU-PF, it might make sense for him to go back to use that route, despite the limitations and the process that has already taken place and ZANU-PF has already unleashed its militia all over the country, ” he said.

Fungano said Tsvangirai faces an uphill battle in his quest to defeat incumbent President Robert Mugabe in an election.

“I think just like the previous election where they (opposition) entered that election with a heavy heart, even mentioning that there were limitations in terms of the environment in terms of the electoral frame work and things like that. I think he is going into this election under protest to say I don’t have an option. But if this is the route that is simply there because remember the MDC has been very clear that they are for ensuring that they are going through the entire democratic process despite the limitations, despite the repressive environment that is existing there. And I think they are just doing that,” Fungano pointed out.

He said although the odds are against the opposition, the MDC is doing all it can to come out victorious in a possible election run-off with incumbent President Mugabe.

“The court case that they (opposition) put through the court, they know that the court will not protect them. But they are simply following the processes that are there despite the limitations that they will provide them,” he noted.