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Tsvangirai Launches Election Bid With "Heavy Heart", Says Vote Won't be Fair

MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday said he was launching his 2013 election campaign “with a heavy heart” but predicted his party will route President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF in the upcoming polls. Tsvangirai lamented the absence of crucial democratic reforms to guarantee the elections would be free and fair.

“We are faced with an election without reforms and against a leopard that has remained faithful to its spots, but our faith in God and our collective desire for real transformation will make us triumph over the setbacks, which are temporary,” said Tsvangirai during the launch at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera. “We participate with a heavy heart.”

The elections will end the shaky coalition government that brought rivals Tsvangirai and Mugabe together in a power-sharing deal following a disputed poll in 2008. The MDC founding leader predicted a landslide victory against Mugabe’s Zanu PF party in a poll that he says will not be legitimate.

“We have tried our best over the last four years, against serious resistance from our counterparts in Government, to ensure that this country is prepared for a genuine, free, fair and credible election,” he told thousands of supporters dressed in the party’s colours – red and white.

“Regrettably, what we have witnessed in the last few weeks is a concerted effort designed to rob the election of legitimacy before it has even begun. But we believe in the people of Zimbabwe and your collective wisdom. We know you, the people of Zimbabwe, will do the right thing for yourselves, your children and the future of this country. Indeed, let us move for more in a New Zimbabwe!”

Tsvangirai praised the Southern African Development Community for its mediation efforts in the Zimbabwean political dialogue.

Responding to threats Friday by President Mugabe to pull Zimbabwe out of the regional bloc should some leaders, in particular SADC-appointed mediator in Harare, continue to push for reforms ahead of the polls, Tsvangirai said doing so would be suicidal.

“SADC represents a close family of nations of this region and an MDC Government will never contemplate ostracizing Zimbabwe from SADC. We must all be reminded that SADC is a regional grouping of people of the region not merely a club of leaders of their countries. We are members of SADC for historical, political, geographical, cultural and economic reasons,” said Tsvangirai.

“Therefore, no individual, whatever their station in life or office, has a right to unilaterally and without consultation with the people of Zimbabwe, pull this country out of SADC. The people of Zimbabwe will not allow inflated egos to stand in the way of their mutually beneficial relationship with their fellow brothers and sisters in the SADC region.”

Tsvangirai promised to create more than a million jobs for Zimbabwe if elected into office. He encouraged all registered voters to go out in their numbers to cast their ballots come July 31.

“The people will definitely win and our vote will be our ticket to a new Zimbabwe of genuine freedom, transformation and true happiness,” he said.