WASHINGTON DC —
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he will beat his bitter rival, President Robert Mugabe, in the forthcoming general elections.
Addressing about 20,000 people at an election campaign rally held at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on Saturday, Mr. Tsvangirai said he is confident that he will trounce President Mugabe and form the next government.
He said it’s time for the president, who has ruled Zimbabwe for more than 33 years, to take a rest and enjoy time with his family.
The prime minister said people should vote for him in order to benefit from the country’s abundant natural resources.
Mr. Tsvangirai added that MDC-T youths should not engage in political violence in the run up to the general polls.
He also said he is not worried about some of the bad issues being said about him at campaign rallies nationwide. His opponents have accused the former trade unionist of engaging in some activities that are not fit for a leader like him.
Mr. Tsvangirai said despite these drawbacks, he is confident of chalking up a victory in the elections, especially if the polls are free and fair.
He noted that if elected president, he will ensure that there is transparency in the running of the government.
Also present at the rally was Mavambo Kusile Dawn party president Simba Makoni. The former finance minister and Zanu PF politiburo member’s party has formed an alliance with the MDC-T.
The MDC-T unveiled its party manifesto at Sakubva Stadium which promises to stabilize the Zimbabwe economy at create over 2 million jobs in five years, among many other issues.
In a related development, President Mugabe on Saturday urged Zimbabweans to form their own churches.
Mr. Mugabe told thousands of people in Marange, Manicaland Province, that it is possible for local people to form indigenous churches as Zimbabwe is an independent nation.
Addressing members of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Faith sect, he said most churches in Zimbabwe were set up by missionaries.
Meanwhile, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo is expected to lead a 60-member African Union (AU) team to monitor Zimbabwe’s general elections.
The AU says Obasanjo will arrive in Zimbabwe 10 days before the polls set for July 31. The organization says the monitors are drawn from African non-governmental organisations and member nations.
The team will join nine observers that are already in Zimbabwe where the MDC formations are crying foul over the voters’ roll which they claim has left out thousands of aliens and other potential voters.
President Mugabe’s party is opposing the deployment of non-African observers saying any country which imposed targeted sanctions on him and his inner circle will not be allowed to observe the elections.
Political analyst Nkululeko Sibanda of Huddersfield University in London told VOA Studio 7 that Obasanjo is expected to be part of a tough monitoring team from the AU.