Tsvangirai asks 'US to invade Zimbabwe'

Herald reporters - in Harare

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has released a statement in which he tacitly called on the US to invade Zimbabwe in the same way it led military assaults on Afghanistan and Iraq, knowing that such an occurrence would result in him becoming head of state without going through a democratic process.

He said: "How can global leaders espouse the values of democracy yet when they are being challenged fail to open their mouths? Why is it that a supposed  'war on terror' ignores the very real terror of broken minds and mangled bodies that lie along the trail left by (President) Mugabe?"

Tsvangirai also revealed that he supported sanctions against Zimbabwe and sought an extension of the current economic embargo on the country as a means of installing him in State House.

"This is a time for strong action. We urge the International Monetary Fund at its meeting this week, to withhold the  £1 billion of aid to Zimbabwe unless the defeated ex-President accepts the election results in full and hands over the reins of power," he said.

The opposition leader also tried to entice President Mugabe to hand over power to him outside of a run-off by saying an MDC government would grant him security.

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai visited South Africa at the weekend where he met African National Congress president Jacob Zuma and government officials in that country. Zuma has since demanded that Zimbabwe's electoral commission releases the results of the poll for president held more than a week ago.

President Robert Mugabe, who faces a run-off for the post because neither he nor Tsvangirai who more than 50 per cent of the vote, has warned Zimbabweans of the threat of 'the colonialist West' attempting to use the current crisis to grab back the land they once occupied.

MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai asked Zanu-PF to accommodate him as one of the Vice Presidents in a government of national unity after being told by his advisors that a possible run-off with President Mugabe for the top job was not in his best interests, The Herald can reveal.

This comes in the wake of indications that former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has been trying to contact Zimbabwean authorities over a power-sharing deal after being prompted to do so by "external forces keen to see Tsvangirai rule the country".

The MDC proposal was that Tsvangirai be installed as one of the two Vice Presidents and they also wanted a number of ministerial posts reserved for them and Zanu-PF's Politburo meeting on Friday was held against this background.

But the opposition was told that this was a non-starter and Zanu-PF would not stomach the idea of Tsvangirai in the Presidium.

"They were told that Zanu-PF was ready for a run-off and this is what has got Tsvangirai worried," a source said.

They added that the pro-opposition Zimbabwe Election Support Network has since advised Tsvangirai that he had failed to avoid a run-off and this had prompted his advisors to come up with a strategy to "subvert democratic, legal and electoral processes as a matter of urgency".

The sources said Tsvangirai's strategy to avert a run-off was based on three pillars  — enticing President Mugabe into retirement through the efforts of people like Mr Annan; engineering a government of national unity; and the threat of extended sanctions and even a military invasion led by the United States.

"Tsvangirai made an appeal over the weekend for the UN to apply pressure on President Mugabe when it became clear that Zanu-PF was not amenable to making him a Vice President. The UN secretariat has refused to be drawn into Zimbabwe's politics on Tsvangirai's terms, but Annan has already taken a position supportive of the MDC's demands.

"Since then, he has been trying to contact President Mugabe to engineer a coalition government like he did in Kenya. But it seems people have overlooked the fact that Zimbabwe is nothing like Kenya. As we speak, it is highly unlikely that President Mugabe has entertained Annan's approaches," a source explained.

President Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, yesterday refused to be drawn into making a comment.

"I am not given to discussing with the media confidential contacts involving the President," he said.

The MDC-Tsvangirai strategy suggests that the opposition is aware that it has not won the presidential polls and would like to find a way of avoiding a run-off.