Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said his party will win back foreign investors and lead Zimbabwe out of economic and political turmoil if he succeeds in ousting President Robert Mugabe, 89, and becomes president later this year.
“The election is a formality,” Tsvangirai told supporters Friday at the kickoff of a three-day conference of the Movement for Democratic Change, according to a report in Deutsche Welle. “It is a formality of saying those who believe in past policies that destroyed this country have no chance, have no place for the future of this country.”
Tsvangirai promised to curtail the power of the country’s security services and “open Zimbabwe for business, usher in substantive reforms in various sectors with the sole objective of spurring economic growth,” according to the report.
No date has been set for Zimbabwe’s elections, which will end Tsvangirai’s coalition government formed four years ago with Mugabe. During that time, the Movement for Democratic Change has lost popularity because it failed to deliver on its promise to tackle issues including freedom of the press, poverty, and an end to the country’s economic crisis, according to the report.
A recent opinion poll by U.S.-based Freedom House showed a resurgence in popularity of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, up to 31 percent from 17 percent, with support for the MDC dropping from 38 to 20 percent.
Zimbawe’s Finance Minister and MDC Secretary General, Tendai Biti, dismissed the poll. “The MDC is going to win the election by 78 percent,” he said in Deutsche Welle.
Analysts say Zimbabwe’s economy nose-dived when Mugabe imposed chaotic land reforms in 2000, displacing experienced white commercial farmers with black peasant farmers. Since then the country has become a net importer of food, according to Deutsche Welle.
Tsvangirai tried to quell fears that the upcoming election, expected to be held in late summer, will be violent, promising to restore human rights and the rule of law.
“The next election is not necessarily going to be about who can set in motion the most blazing violence in our land,” he told the crowd. “There are some people who believe that without violence they are not going to win the support of the people. No to violence.”
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the main force behind the formation of the MDC, believes Tsvangirai and his party must change the way they are doing things to win the next elections, according to Deutsche Welle.