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US offside – MDC-T

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FORMER Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition MDC-T party has reacted angrily to United States criticism of its “no reforms no elections” policy as well as resorting to the courts after poll loses.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said the opposition party was not an extension of US foreign policy.

“We don’t think on behalf of the Americans. They are perfectly entitled to hold their own views. We are on the ground here in Zimbabwe and whatever decisions and resolutions that we take are fully and adequately informed by the prevailing local conditions and scenarios,” Gutu said.

Gutu said his party welcomed criticism, “even the unpalatable”.
“The MDC is a democratic political party that is tolerant of any constructive criticism from any interested stakeholders. Unlike Zanu PF that is morbidly intolerant of criticism, the MDC is always open to constructive suggestions and propositions, no matter how unpalatable they might appear to be at face value.”

Asked if the former Justice deputy minister was of the opinion that the US official’s criticism was in bad taste, Gutu retorted;
“You give whatever interpretation that you want to the criticism.”
Early this week, in what could be a sign of a growing rift between Tsvangirai and the West, visiting US Congressman Gregory Simpkins, director in the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations, criticised the veteran opposition leader’s policy on non-participation in elections as well as court actions citing poll fraud.

“Oftentimes we have heard the opposition saying it is tough to compete, they have to find a way of being effective rather than just saying it is too tough to compete so we are not going to take part. If you do not take part in an election process, how can you criticise something that you did not even test?” Simpkins queried.
He urged against resorting to challenging poll results in courts at the slightest excuse.

But Gutu said the MDC-T resolution not to participate in any elections without reforms was debated at its fourth national congress last year.

“Whilst we fully respect the Americans for saying what they have said, at the end of the day the buck stops with us, as Zimbabweans, to decide what is good for our beloved country going forward,” he said.

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