Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday claimed President Robert Mugabe last week begged him not to walk out of the wobbly inclusive government in protest against escalating violence in most parts of the country.
Addressing thousands of MDC-T supporters at Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza, Tsvangirai said President Mugabe persuaded him to stay until the finalisation of the new constitution, after which they would then negotiate dates for fresh elections.
He said the decision to pull out of the inclusive government had been triggered by bouts of violence in Harare and Chitungwiza.
A fortnight ago, Tsvangirai was forced to cancel a rally at the same venue after suspected Zanu PF supporters stormed the stadium and attacked MDC-T supporters.
“We had notified the police of the meeting, but when the police come between people with a legitimate meeting and those disrupting the meeting, who has won? Obviously the one who disrupts wins on his objectives,” Tsvangirai said.
“Zanu PF disrupted our rally violently. There was a follow-up in Lupane and Victoria Falls, where (Matabeleland North police chief Edmore) Veterai was told that Tsvangirai should not have a rally here or else you will be fired. We know who has sent him.”
The Premier said during his no-holds-barred meeting with President Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, he told them the inclusive government had virtually collapsed and it was time to end the marriage.
“We met as principals — myself, President Mugabe and Mutambara and said this is unacceptable.
“This inclusive government can’t continue to ignore its responsibility to provide leadership to the nation. I told President Mugabe that he holds his meetings without problems and I asked where violence is coming from in a country that is said to be peaceful,” he said.
“Where is the future of the country when we preside over a government that has overstayed its welcome?”
Tsvangirai said the transitional government, which was expected to last two years, had outlived its usefulness.
“(I said) let’s talk now and say this marriage is over, but President Mugabe said wait and let’s find out when the (new) constitution comes.
“I told him it’s too late and we can go for that election with or without a new constitution,” Tsvangirai said. The three principals were forced to address a joint meeting of the Zanu PF central committee and national councils of MDC formations to tackle violence.
The PM, who was in Morocco last week, said North Africans were now preoccupied with uprisings because of their long-drawn out suffering under dictatorships. But he said Zimbabwe cannot go the same route because there was an agreement “that we will tackle dictatorship using democratic and non-violent means”.
Those who like to have uprisings and revolutions, they have no predictable outcome. Our job in the transition is not to be victims but managers of change,” he said.
“What came out of the meeting (with President Mugabe) was that there must be sincerity and President Mugabe should be able to walk the talk.
“I told him to put his dogs on a leash. People of Zimbabwe must not only speak of non-violence, they must enjoy peace.”
He also challenged police Commissioner- General Augustine Chihuri to be professional in dealing with political violence.