Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, is speaking out about his health and the voter registration underway in his country.
Tsvangirai, who announced last year that he has colon cancer, was flown to South Africa a few weeks ago for an unknown ailment, from which he said he is recovering well.
“I feel much better. As you know, I had to be hospitalized in order to attend to an ailment. But I feel quite confident that the ailment has been treated,” said Tsvangirai.
As to when he will return to Zimbabwe, to finalize details of an opposition alliance that he spearheaded with about seven other opposition parties, to contest the 2018 elections, Mr. Tsvangirai was non-committal.
“Not sure yet. I have a review on Monday, and then we’ll see after that,” he said.
Zimbabwe has kicked off its voter registration exercise in preparation for the 2018 parliamentary and presidential elections, in which incumbent President Robert Mugabe will be contesting against several opposition parties. Tsvangirai and his party are in the process of forging an alliance with about seven other political parties, in the hopes of defeating Mr. Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) which is conducting the elections, has faced criticism from opposition and other civic groups, which question ZEC’s autonomy and independence from Zanu-PF to run clean elections. The electoral body has also faced accusations of being ill-prepared to register voters using the newly-acquired Biometric Voter Registration kits, which the country is using for the first time.
Tsvangirai, who lost to President Mugabe in a disputed 2013 election after a five-year power sharing agreement, is urging Zimbabweans to register, so that they can be eligible to vote next year.
“My message is very simple. Go and register. Its no excuse for anyone not to register. Anyone who feels a national responsibility must go and register in order to prepare themselves for voting,“ urged Tsvangirai.
Anyone who does not register before the registration deadline ends in January, will not be eligible to vote in the 2018 elections. Tsvangirai warned those who don’t register, to not cry foul if President Mugabe wins the elections through the ballot.
“Its no use people crying after the event. People must take advantage of the opportunity that has been created and go and register,” Tsvangirai stressed. “That is my appeal. There is no excuse for anybody not to register. Let’s all go and register, and when it comes to voting, remember you are not going to vote unless you have registered. So be one of the first ones to go and register.”
Zimbabwe’s youth, who make us the largest group of voters in Zimbabwe, have proved a challenge for the opposition, with many not registering to vote or turning up to vote when the election process is underway. To them, Tsvangirai had the following message.
“You don’t adopt a negative attitude, just because for some reason in the past something happened. It’s a new chapter, it’s a new process. Give it a try, and besides we are doing this for them. This election is about the youth, its about the future, and my appeal would be please, take advantage of the opportunity. “
Tsvangirai and his party have pushed for electoral reforms prior to the elections, but parliament has yet to act aligning the reforms with the current constitution. Mr. Tsvangirai said they will enter the elections with eyes wide open for any attempts at stealing the vote.
“We’ll of course be taking all measures to make sure that we minimize or mitigate against any possible shenanigans but a fundamental issue is that Zimbabweans must put the future into their own hands.,” said Mr. Tsvangirai.