Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday opened the third congress of his formation of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change telling women and youth members to gear up for elections in 2012 and to forswear violence.
Mr. Tsvangirai, who founded the MDC in 1999 as a former labor organizer and navigated it through a 2005 split which spun off another MDC wing, warned his supporters that anyone resorting to violence within the party or outside it would be expelled.
He said a resolution to that effect would be pushed through during the congress. Critics have accused Mr. Tsvangirai of failing to move decisively to quell internecine fighting in the run-up to the congress as backers of candidates for various posts clashed. Street fighting between such rival MDC factions was reported in Bulawayo last week.
Mr. Tsvangirai also urged women to be pro-active and to demand leadership positions within the party and in the government, correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported.
For a closer look at the congress and elections to be held on Friday and Saturday, VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo spoke from Washington with political analysts Effie Dlela Ncube and Charles Mangongera.
Mangongera said Mr. Tsvangirai and his MDC formation must use this congress to deal with the rising violence that has dented his party’s image in recent months.
Ncube said that because the MDC proposes to offer an alternative to the former ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, it must live up to a higher standard.