Tsvangirai said he left Zimbabwe on April 8 to present regional leaders with information that Mugabe’s military planned attacks on the opposition. He said then he expected to be away only a few weeks but instead embarked on an international tour designed to rally support for democracy in Zimbabwe. He said it now was time to turn his attention to rallying his supporters at home.
In Harare last Saturday, Tsvangirai said 42 of his party’s “most dedicated, brightest and strongest” supporters and activists have been killed since the first round of voting.
Tsvangirai claims he won the first round outright, and that official results released May 2 showing a runoff was necessary were fraudulent. Asked whether he thought Mugabe would be any more likely to step down in June than he was in March, Tsvangirai said the runoff result would be “definitive.”
Mugabe was hailed at independence for encouraging racial reconciliation and providing educational and economic opportunities for the black majority. But he was later of accused of holding onto power through fraud, violence and intimidation.
Zimbabwe’s economic decline has been blamed on the collapse of the key agriculture sector following the often violent seizures of farmland from whites. Mugabe claimed the seizures, which began in 2002, were to benefit poor blacks, but many of the farms went to his loyalists.
Tsvangirai said he was inspired by Mugabe’s independence-era racial reconciliation campaign, but that the challenge now was greater.
“It was easier when it was black and white,” Tsvangirai said. “But your own brother against your own brother, torturing, killing. It’s brother against brother, it’s black against black. [The division is] going to be bitter, it’s going to be deep, it’s going to be lasting.”
He said Zimbabwe would have to embark on something similar to South Africa’s truth and reconciliation process, under which human rights violators of the apartheid era were offered amnesty if they made a full accounting of their crimes and asked for forgiveness. Tsvangirai said he did not want a trial of Mugabe, saying that would distract Zimbabweans from building a future.
Tsvangirai called on Zimbabweans who have fled their country’s political and economic collapse to return. By conservative estimates, 4 million Zimbabweans are abroad, most in South Africa.
“There’s a serious political challenge back home that needs everyone,” he said. “It’s no longer just the responsibility of the [opposition Movement for Democratic Change party] to push out Mugabe. It’s all of us.”
Zimbabweans have been among the main targets in a deadly wave of anti-foreigner violence in South Africa blamed on impoverished South Africans who see immigrants as competitors for scarce resources. Tsvangirai said last Saturday that the South African violence can also be blamed on Mugabe.
“Our crisis in this country is impacting on [neighbors’] economies and societies” he said in Harare. “The entire … region awaits a new Zimbabwe.”
Associated Press Writer Donna Bryson in Johannesburg, South Africa, contributed to this report.
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