Tsvangirai criticism for delaying Zimbabwe return
Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) pressure group rejected concerns raised by the MDC about Tsvangirai’s security, saying he was not in a “special class” and Zimbabweans expected him to be “harassed together with them”.
Tsvangirai, who left Zimbabwe for South Africa shortly after the first vote on March 29, had been scheduled to return home on Saturday to relaunch his campaign, but the party said it had received information about a planned assassination attempt.
"Tsvangirai will not be going to Zimbabwe today. We are still assessing the security situation," his spokesman George Sibotshiwe said from Johannesburg on Sunday.
The MDC insists Tsvangirai won enough votes against Mugabe to avoid a run-off, but the electoral commission said he had not.
The June 27 election re-run will be held against the backdrop of a political and economic meltdown in which Zimbabweans have grappled with 165,000 percent inflation, 80 percent unemployment, chronic food and fuel shortages which have seen millions flee to neighboring countries.
Speaking on SW Radio Africa’s Hot Seat programme on Friday, Madhuku, whose organisation has been one of the MDC’s traditional allies, said criticism of Tsvangirai’s extended stay outside the country was “very, very fair criticism”.
He said: “Tsvangirai should not have been out of the country for more than a few days and I think that point must be made. I think there are people around Tsvangirai who keep telling him that it is appropriate that he should do what they call ‘diplomatic work’ outside the country.
“In political leadership, it is important that you are there with the people that you lead. Diplomatic initiatives are secondary. They play a secondary role to the processes.
“The first process was an election; people went out and peacefully voted for the MDC and voted for Tsvangirai for President. They have played their part and if that position is being is being reversed by a government I don’t think the first response is; ‘Let me go to the United Nations to try and ask them to intervene.’
“I think the first thing is; ‘Now what do we do here on the ground, in the country?’ So I would understand that there was need from time to time for Tsvangirai to talk to African leaders, talk to leaders in wherever places he went to but that cannot be done indefinitely or ad infinitum. You have to say I do it for a week and that’s all.”
Tsvangirai had been expected to attend a rally in the second largest city of Bulawayo on Sunday, but that went ahead without him.
Madhuku said he sensed a political strategy by the MDC to turn Tsvangirai’s home-coming – whenever it happens -- into “big news”.
“… some of the guys that are working with him, they want to make it big news that he is coming back to Zimbabwe. That should not be big news at all,” the constitutional law expert said.
“The fact is that there is an election that took place when Tsvangirai was around, people went to vote and they are quite frustrated by what Zanu PF is doing, they expect the leadership to be in the country, to be harassed together with them and to provide the way. And it is even disturbing that the MDC says when he (Tsvangirai) comes back they want to do what they call victory meetings; I don’t know what that means. That is actually out of touch to what is happening in the country.”
The MDC says at least 32 of its supporters have been killed in post-election violence as President Mugabe launches his fight-back from the March 29 upset.
The party says it is concerned Tsvangirai might be targeted if he returns, and has had its demands for guarantees over his security rejected by the Zimbabwe government.
Madhuku said: “That … seems to suggest that Tsvangirai is in some special class. He is only special to the extent that he is providing leadership. His only role is to be the leader – that is his role – and leadership is not being protected. Leadership is to really take the risks that go with leadership.
“So you shouldn’t say would it make any difference; the point of the matter is that the political struggle is taking place in Zimbabwe and he is leading a struggle in Zimbabwe so he should be in Zimbabwe where the struggle is.
think it matters to say ‘will it make a difference or not’
(if he returns) because he is not leading a struggle being waged elsewhere.
It’s a struggle being waged in Zimbabwe and those who are involved
in it should be here with the risks that go with it.”
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