Tsvangirai and Mugabe battle for Bulawayo


Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader Robert Mugabe may have been more than 100 km apart today but they were both fighting for Bulawayo.

Tsvangirai was in Bulawayo itself and Mugabe 120 km away in Gwanda. But their topic was Bulawayo. Each was blaming the other for lack of development in the city which used to be the industrial hub of the country.

Tsvangirai asked why firms in Bulawayo had closed and said the economy needed fixing.

“Why is it, Bulawayo is no longer the capital of industry. We will make Bulawayo an economic zone. Why should government move the Cold Storage Commission from Bulawayo and locate it where there is no cattle rearing. Wrong priorities,” he was quoted as saying.

The MDC leader said the government had even sabotaged Joshua Nkomo Airport, Bulawayo’s regional and international airport, because they did not want Joshua Nkomo’s legacy to live on, pledging that his government will finish the project.

In Gwanda, Mugabe blamed the lack of development on Finance Minister and MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti. He said Zimbabwe got US$500 million under the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights to boost the economy but Biti had not accounted for the money.

“We had said part of the money must be used to resuscitate companies in Bulawayo, but Biti said he would give only US$20 million, which was not enough. The rest of the $500 million, we do not know where it went to,” he said.

“We have moved together with the MDCs and people are now able to judge their performance and personality. You now know ukuthi ngabantu abanjani. Things have been going down and down, especially in Bulawayo.”

In the 2008 presidential elections, a total of 96 685 people voted – 49 657 for Tsvangirai, 35 510 for Simba Makoni, 11 118 for Mugabe and 400 for Langton Towungana.

The ball game has changed. Simba Makoni is now out of the picture and is behind Tsvangirai. But Zimbabwe African People’s Union leader Dumiso Dabengwa and the leader of the other faction of the MDC Welshman Ncube are both contesting.

Mugabe might not have a chance as the people of Bulawayo and Matebeleland have vowed never to vote for him but the other three candidates are likely to split the vote. How- remains to be seen.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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