THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Mugabe 'plotted' life presidency
Itai Gwatidzo, The Zimbabwe Guardian
November 19, 2007


PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's assertion that the decision by his government to harmonise the country's crucial presidential and parliamentary elections next year was bent on cutting costs and that it was a position agreed upon by his administration is untrue, it has now emerged.

Part of the audio interview, which Mugabe gave OMNI, a Canadian television station last year and which was not broadcast due to time limitations, was made available to The Zimbabwe Guardian. In the interview President Mugabe suggests that he decided, not Zanu PF, that elections be married without making any consultations - seemingly for his own ends.

The revelation crystallizes the widely held political view that President Mugabe made the controversial decision to call for polls next year so as to grant himself a life presidency while monopolizing his candidature to maintain a strong grip on power.

The disclosure could portray Mugabe in unflattering light with the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) heads of states who mandated South African President, Thabo Mbeki, as chief negotiator between Mugabe and the opposition so as to resolve Zimbabwe's deepening crisis.

It will also come as a shock to many ruling party and government officials who hitherto thought the issue of holding the harmonised elections in 2008 was done altruistically.

President Mugabe who is set to be endorsed as the ruling Zanu PF candidate next month during a special party congress gave a cosmetic impression all along through state media that his party and government had brainstormed the issue of harmonizing elections.

Vice President Joice Mujuru's husband, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, who heads a faction opposed to President Mugabe's continued stay in office, tried to block Mugabe from extending his tenure to 2010.

In the audio interview Mugabe is asked by his interviewer: "I have had talk that the presidential elections are in 2008 and the rest of them in 2010 and you might harmonise the two. What are your thoughts on that? Do you have an opinion on whether they should harmonise them?"

Mugabe retorts, "Well, well the suggestion came from me earlier on. I said the six year term for a president was far too long. And then of course it produced the disparity, the imbalance, and the discord between the parliamentary elections and the presidential elections.

"Whereas before when we still had the ceremonial president, and I was Prime Minister by the way I began as Prime minister, only in 1988 I became President."

The new twist to Mugabe's disputed and contentious endorsement to lead his party against a splintered opposition next year, comes on the backdrop of the veteran politican giving assent, a fortnight ago, to Constitutional Amendment Act (No 18), a legal measurement which gives him sweeping powers and provides for the harmonisation of the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Legal critics argue the new legislation will deliver to Mugabe an easy win next year as aspiring parliamentarians from his party will campaign on his behalf to seek re-election, therefore bolstering their own ballots.

President Mugabe is currently battling for political survival owing to growing resistance to his rule within his own government and the Zanu PF party.

President Mugabe has bulldozed himself to become the party candidate in next year's crucial Presidential elections as a measure to thwart his imminent oust from office, sources within the inner circles of his party said.

Sources added that Zimbabwe's economic crisis has also exacerbated the situation for Mugabe, thus explaining why he wants to keep a grip on power. Others argue that he's bent on possibly dying in office in order to evade possible indictment for 'crimes against humanity' he is alleged to have committed in office.

Zanu PF officials contacted last week preferring anonymity maintain that the President no longer trusts anyone in his party especially members from the Mujuru faction who have put up strong resistance to his self-imposed candidature which is due to be forcibly endorsed on December 14 when his party convenes an extra ordinary congress.

Mugabe's pendulum is now heavily tilted to his former bodyguard and current rural amenities minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa who has thrown his weight behind his controversial candidacy.

Mugabe's press secretary, George Charamba could not be reached for comment last night as his mobile phone went unanswered. Charamba was also said to be attending meetings after numerous calls to his office last week.

Mugabe who has clearly fallen out of favour with the ruling party's old guard as their choice for President next year, has turned to war veterans for support and the party's youth so as to intimidate his opponents inside the party, critics say.

The Zanu PF Women's League is also drumming up support for Mugabe, who is all but set to be the ruling party candidate next year after the two Vice Presidents publicly endorsed him, with Joseph Msika on Saturday calling for Mugabe to rule for life.

Audio File

  • OMNI interview extract
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 53sec
    Date: 2007
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 25.3MB

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.