Tsvangirai ends campaign with calls for 89-year-old Mugabe to retire

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wound up his presidential election campaign on Monday with a pledge to let his rival, 89-year-old veteran leader Robert Mugabe enjoy retirement.

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wound up his presidential election campaign on Monday with a pledge to let his rival, 89-year-old veteran leader Robert Mugabe enjoy retirement.

Tsvangirai, 61, told supporters of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party at an open ground in Harare that voters on Wednesday will make a choice between "a bleak yesterday and a better tomorrow." Their choice would not only be a political, but also a generational one, the prime minister said, adding that Mugabe belongs to a generation who fought for the independence, but now he belongs to a generation that is fighting for democracy. "I want President Mugabe to enjoy his retirement in the comfort of his homeland. I pray he lives long, because I want to show him how a country is run," Tsvangirai said.

 

The MDC-T leader beat Mugabe in the first round of elections in 2008 but withdrew from the run-off alleging a violent campaign by Mugabe's supporters. He took a jibe at Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, saying that it should have chosen a younger person to take the huge task of leading the government, rather than leaving it to an elderly person. Mugabe will turn 90 coming February. Mugabe wrapped up his campaign on Sunday with an impressive turnout of 40,000 people at the country's largest sports venue, the National Sports Stadium. An upbeat Mugabe spoke on the podium for two hours and, as a tactics to prove fitness, he cooled himself with an ice-cream on stage after finishing the speech. Mugabe termed Tsvangirai as a "political crying boy" and "Western puppets", calling Zimbabweans to part with the MDC-T party for good.

 

The two rivals are expected to enter the tightly-contested polls on Wednesday. The political campaigning ended on Monday. Tsvangirai said while he respected national institutions such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and election observers, he would not accept flawed results. "We do not respect the deliberate attempt to subvert the will of the people. That I will not support," he said to applause from thousands of supporters.  With just one day left before the elections, Tsvangirai said had not yet had a copy of the voters' roll. "The credibility of this election lies in the behavior and conduct of ZEC," he said.

 

Tsvangirai, who is also a former labor leader, said his government would review the labor market policies, while also ensuring that the government provides safety nets for the elderly, orphans and the disabled.  Tsvangirai also said if his party won, he would urge supporters not to go on a retribution spree. They should be forgiving and unite with their former enemies if the country is to develop, said Tsvangirai. 

Xinhua

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