Opposition leader wish for change in Zimbabwean ruling party

Published on Thursday 29th May 2008

Harare (Zimbabwe): Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party should be reformed, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Friday in a speech that may open the door to a national unity government.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won the March 29 parliamentary election with a slim majority, handing ZANU-PF its worst defeat since President Robert Mugabe led it to power after independence from Britain in 1980.

The MDC leader is trying to galvanise support across party lines as he prepares to face Mugabe in a June 27 presidential run-off election. Tsvangirai won a parallel presidential poll in March but not by a margin needed to avoid a second ballot, Reuters report said.

"Instead of focusing on what divides us, we must now try to heal our nation. This means that we can even talk about restoring ZANU-PF," Tsvangirai told the MDC parliamentary caucus and the media in an address in the capital Harare.

"In the spirit of moving the country forward, let us seek out those peaceful members of ZANU-PF whose eyes are open to the disastrous state of our nation. Let us listen to their views. Let us invite them where we have policy agreements."

But Tsvangirai, who has previously broached the idea of working with Mugabe's ZANU-PF in a future government, said there would be no cooperation with what he described as the "violent hawks" in the ruling party.

He added that there would be no amnesty from prosecution for those who continued to engage in political violence.

The MDC says more than 50 people have been killed in election-related attacks since March, blaming elements within ZANU-PF for the bloodshed. Mugabe's officials say MDC supporters are responsible.

"We want to warn the MDC they should stop immediately this barbaric campaign of theirs," Mugabe said on Thursday during a visit with supporters who claimed their houses were torched and destroyed by anti-Mugabe forces.

The opposition and human rights groups have accused Mugabe and his officials of trying to intimidate opponents ahead of the vote. They also fear that his government will rig the results of the poll, as it is accused of doing in past elections.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai say they are confident of victory.

Looking ahead to a post-election transition, Tsvangirai said on Friday he intended to reform the civil service, judiciary and security forces but pledged not to embark on a purge of pro-Mugabe officers or officials.

The MDC leader also outlined a plan to revive Zimbabwe's economy, which has collapsed in the face of a sharp drop in agricultural production, a scarcity of foreign investment and soaring inflation, which is currently at more than 165,000 percent.

State enterprises and the central bank will be restructured, he said.