Harare, March 11, 2014 – Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, yesterday said he would rather die than join President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and reiterated that the 2013 elections were rigged.
The feisty lawyer has come under immense pressure after appearing to praise Zanu PF’s campaign strategies in the 2013 harmonised elections whose results were disputed by the MDC.
In a no-holds-barred interview with the Daily News at his Harare offices yesterday, Biti said he would never sell out the democratic struggle.
“I would rather die than join Zanu PF,” an emotional Biti said.
“I am a child of the MDC and I believe that more than ever, this country needs a strong and united MDC. I was part of the group of 10 who met secretly and conceived the idea of MDC and how it was to be formed… that (joining Zanu PF) will not happen.”
Biti told a public lecture at the Southern Africa Political and Economic Series (Sapes) last week that Zanu PF’s “bhora mugedhi” message resonated with the electorate.
“Zanu PF in the last election had a very simple message, ‘bhora mugedhi’,” Biti told the Sapes dialogue.
“Even a little woman in Chendambuya or Dotito just knew one thing, bhora mugedhi,” Biti told the Sapes dialogue.
“Even a little woman in Chendambuya or Dotito just knew one thing, bhora mugedhi. Perhaps we were too sophisticated, but what was our message because the message of change of 2000 is not the message for now.
“We were selling hopes and dreams when Zanu PF was selling practical realities. We (Zanu PF) are going to give you a farm, it’s there. We are going to give you $5 000 through (Savior) Kasukuwere’s ministry.”
Despite being captured on voice recorders, Biti denied that he had spoken glowingly of Zanu PF’s performance during the last election.
While he claimed at his Sapes lecture that “we didn’t do well in 2013”, he said yesterday: “We ran the best campaign we have ever run. This election on July 31 was blatantly stolen period!
“I have not wavered and sold out to Zanu PF, that’s not true. I am clean I will always be clean, Zanu PF has nothing on me,” he said referring to allegations that he was under pressure to call for Tsvangirai’s ouster to fend off criminal charges arising from the GNU era when he served as Finance minister.
The secretary-general’s lecture last week gave rise to speculation that he was campaigning for Tsvangirai’s ouster, throwing the spotlight on his presidential ambitions.
But he said he had no presidential ambitions.
“I don’t want to be president of the MDC,” he said. “I have made that very clear to Morgan Tsvangirai himself.
“I’m a democrat and I didn’t wake up one morning saying that I’m going into opposition politics but circumstances forced me. Circumstances arising out of my great sense of justice forced me.
“I fought Zanu PF throughout my life. I fought Zanu PF on the streets and I fought Zanu PF in the courts and I will continue to be in these trenches until democratic change is achieved in Zimbabwe.”
The outspoken lawyer, who on Friday declared the suspension of his ally deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma “voidable”, said there was need to move away from politics of personalities.
“What I have learnt in the past few years is that we cannot put our faith in individuals,” he said.
“We have to put our faith in institutions, in constitutions and in teams. Let’s work as a team, let’s depersonalise issues. I also think that we must have a solid value system. Change without substance is no change at all.”
Asked whether he still had confidence in Tsvangirai’s leadership, he said: “Morgan Tsvangirai is the leader of the MDC and I absolutely have no doubt the MDC and its leaders will take the people of Zimbabwe to Canaan because it is the only viable and sustainable alternative to Zanu PF but we have our own internal issues which we have to deal with.
“But we need to refocus on our value systems.”