Tsvangirai draws record crowd to Harare rally

Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news, 24 March 2008

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai upstaged his main rival Robert Mugabe over the weekend by addressing a rally that attracted over 30,000 people in Harare. Mugabe meanwhile was left to swallow the embarrassment of having less than 2,000 people turn up for his rally in Bulawayo’s Stanley Square. The Zanu PF leader normally uses the 40,000-seater Babourfields Stadium, but in a sign of waning support a much smaller venue was used. No such problems confronted Tsvangirai in Harare as jubilant supporters waved red cards in the air while giving a thunderous response to chants of ‘Chinja Maitiro’- change your ways. Even normally sceptical journalists and publications were forced to admit the MDC rally was very well attended and a huge success.

With the state denying the party access to any of the stadiums in the city the party was forced to use an open field close to the Glamis Arena on the outskirts. This did not deter their supporters who still turned up in their numbers. Speaking at the rally Tsvangirai urged his supporters to stay at the polling stations even after they had voted to ‘defend your vote.’ The remarks appeared aimed at pre-empting any attempts by Mugabe’s regime to chase away voters from the polling stations, as happened in the 2002 presidential poll when the High Court ordered an extension of polling hours. Police used teargas to disperse thousands of people who had failed to vote.

Tsvangirai warned that Mugabe would use, ‘every trick in the book’ to rig the coming elections and cited as an example the printing of 9 million ballot papers in a country that is said to have 5,9 million registered voters. ‘On election day, go there as early as you can to cast your vote. Whatever you do, we are holding your (Mugabe's) tail down and this time you are not going anywhere,’ Tsvangirai added to huge cheers. A musical group aligned to the MDC set the stage alight with a song titled, ‘Saddam waenda kwasara Bob’- Saddam Hussein has gone, we are left with Mugabe. In other stunts, a helium balloon inscribed with the words ‘Morgan is More’ was left to float near the venue and added to the carnival atmosphere.

From: http://www.swradioafrica.com/news240308/mtrally240308.htm

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