Mugabe's henchmen to force MDC to grant them amnesty – Senior Zanu PF leaders confess

HARARE – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s top lieutenants are trying to force opposition Movement of Democratic Change to grant them amnesty for their past crimes, according to senior members of Mugabe’s party.\r\n

Their fixation on getting amnesty was described by four senior ruling party officials, all Mugabe confidants, who spoke to a Zimbabwean journalist working for The New York Times.

To protect themselves, some of Mugabe’s lieutenants are trying to implicate opposition officials in a supposed plot to overthrow the president, hoping to use it as leverage in any amnesty talks , the officials said.

Mugabe’s generals and politicians in Zanu-PF have organised campaigns of terror for decades to keep him and his party in power.

Crimes committed during last year’s election campaign, while the world watched, included abducting, detaining and torturing opposition officials and activists.

Mugabe’s lieutenants, part of an inner circle called the Joint Operations Command, know that their 85-year-old leader may not be around much longer to shield them, and fear losing not just their power and ill-gotten wealth, but their freedom, party officials said.

Former personal assistant to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai Ghandi Mudzingwa, was Mudzingwa abducted along Mutare Road in the Industrial Area of Msasa, Harare, in December last year only to surface in court days later, charged with banditry and terrorism together with a freelance photographer, Andrison Manyere and Chris Dhlamini, now has no hope of being released, despite intense lobbying by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, one of Mugabe’s principal negotiators in the power-sharing talks that led to the current government, informally told opposition officials around the time that the transitional government took office in February that his party wanted an amnesty, according to a senior Zanu-PF official close to the talks.

“The MDC did not sound very forthcoming,” said the official. — © 2009 The New York Times News Service