At a 14th anniversary rally in the eastern capital of Mutare, thousands rallied behind the MDC leader, while on the diplomatic front, Zimbabwe’s political opposition has said any talks must lead to an audit of the disputed results of the July 31 vote and presumably a fresh poll.
Amid calls by senior party officials including treasurer-general Roy Bennett suggesting that Tsvangirai’s continued stay in power did not reflect the will of the people, Tsvangirai through his spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka, said he will not leave before he is dethroned by congress — scheduled for 2016 — and suggested he might seek another term.
The comments are the first about his political future since his devastating but controversial defeat by President Robert Mugabe last month in a poll he says was “stolen”.
The MDC president’s remarks highlighted the difficulties he faces in getting his frustrated constituency to coalesce around him in the wake of the July 31 vote that returned Mugabe to office for a seventh term with a two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Tsvangirai has dismissed those trying to topple him as Zanu PF-backed rabble-rousers.
“The only people we know who are singing the chorus that he must go are Zanu PF because of the high blood pressure that he has given their nonagenarian leader,” Tamborinyoka said referring to 89-year-old Mugabe.
“In fact, that Tsvangirai must go for Zanu PF is not a chorus, it has become a whole hymn.”
After losing to one of Africa’s longest serving leader in heavily disputed elections, Tamborinyoka said an impression was being created in the media that Tsvangirai was afraid of the people and that he will not be reaffirmed by the people.
“Any day, any time, any hour, he is prepared to go to the people to get a mandate,” he said.
He said it was the MDC leader’s “natural character” not to impose himself on the people and said every minute he has served as MDC president, “has been a minute affirmed and endorsed by the MDC membership.”
“He will not stay any minute longer when the MDC membership feels he is no longer serving their purpose,” Tamborinyoka said. “As of now, the whole party is clear that he is our best foot forward.”
Tamborinyoka disputed allegations that Tsvangirai changed the party’s constitution to seek a third term and extend his stay at the helm of the 14-year-old party.
He said the constitutional changes were made by the people not by Tsvangirai.
Last week exiled MDC treasurer-general Roy Bennett told South Africa’s Business Day newspaper, that it was high time Tsvangirai quit.
“Tsvangirai has served two terms and is nearly completing a third,” Bennett said.
“Deep introspection needs to be undertaken by our national collective leadership, not for purposes of looking for scapegoats, but for our party to reinvigorate its leadership with a leadership which reflects the will of our people,” Bennett said.
MDC chairman Lovemore Moyo has said his party was summoning the former Chimanimani legislator for clarification on his statement.