Zimbabwe oppostion leader issues new pledge to return home

May 23rd, 2008 - 1:16 am ICT by admin  

Johannesburg, May 22 (DPA) Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced Thursday he would return to Zimbabwe Saturday after previously delaying his return over an alleged assassination plot. On a visit to Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa displaced by 12 days of mob attacks on African migrants, the MDC leader said: “The cause for this crisis is none other than our politicial circumstances back home.”

“I am going back home tomorrow (a spokesman later corrected to Saturday) to resolve these problems,” he said, appealing to a crowd of about 100 migrants sheltering at a police station in Alexandra township north of Johannesburg to join him.

Tsvangirai had been due to return last weekend amid a growing clamour from his supporters to end his more than month-long absence from Zimbabwe and run the same risks as his supporters.

But he declined to return at the last minute, citing knowledge of a plot by President Robert Mugabe’s government to assassinate him and other party leaders.

Hundreds of MDC members and supporters have been beaten by pro-Mugabe youth militia since March 29 elections, in which the MDC defeated Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party in parliament.

Tsvangirai also took more votes than Mugabe in the presidential vote but not enough for an outright victory, according to the official count. A run-off round between the two has been set down for June 27.

Tsvangirai told Zimbabweans in Alexandra he was shocked at the spate of attacks on migrants in South Africa.

Over 1,000 people are sheltering at Alexandra police station since residents of the area kickstarted the violence May 11, accusing African migrants of taking their jobs and public housing.

“What we should be doing is to find a solution so that those who can find food and work back home do not have to their welcome here,” Tsvangirai said, promising that those who wanted to leave South Africa would be assisted.

“Tsvangirai is number one,” the crowd of mostly young men sang, running behind him as he left to tour another squatter camp in eastern Johannesburg.

Between one and three million Zimbabweans, mostly illegals, are estimated to have fled their country’s economic and political chaos to South Africa, putting a strain on resources in poor communities.

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