Friday, December 07, 2012

(NEWZIMBABWE) Tsvangirai says vow to quit if he loses 'a joke'

Tsvangirai says vow to quit if he loses 'a joke'
06/12/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

MORGAN Tsvangirai, who announced last week that he would stand down as MDC leader if he loses elections next year, has stunned supporters by declaring: "It was a joke."

The former trade unionist would have led the party for 14 years next year, and although he had been criticised by supporters for "negative thinking", most had welcomed his gesture.

But now the 60-year-old, constantly battling criticism for indecisiveness and failing to hold the party together after a damaging split in 2005, is refusing to take the possibility of staying on after the next elections off the table.

In an interview with The Daily News published Thursday, Tsvangirai recanted utterances made during a meeting with his MDC-T party’s executives in Gweru on November 30.

“I'm a messenger of hope and cannot be a carrier of bad news,” he told the newspaper, trying to deflect criticism from activists who said the timing of his announcement could demoralise the rank and file just months before the crucial vote.

He went on: “I cannot be discouraging my own supporters or threatening them. We will win the next elections. I don’t know how journalists sneak into our closed-door meetings and misconstrue the jokes we make with our people.”

Tsvangirai insisted he was "not under any pressure to make that decision” of whether to stay or go after the elections, which President Robert Mugabe says will be held in March in line with a court order.

“If there are any people who have been misled by those reports, they need to calm down,” the MDC-T leader added in the interview.

“I intend to see through my five-year term from the mandate I received at last year’s congress and I will be here until the next congress.”
Speaking in Gweru on November 30, Tsvangirai said: “2013 election tikaruza, zvakaoma [if we lose, it would be difficult].

“You [should] take others and put them forward, isn’t that so?”

Following the split in 2005, the MDC-T amended the party’s constitution which previously limited the leader to just two five-year terms.
Under the new constitution, the “two term” clause will only kick in after the party gets into power.

Despite his latest U-turn, senior figures in the party insist that if Tsvangirai loses next year, he would have fought his third and last presidential election.

The party’s secretary general Tendai Biti and the organising secretary Nelson Chamisa are touted as the likely successors to Tsvangirai.

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