Robert Mugabe planning unprecedented bloodbath

HARARE – There are growing fears that Zimbabwe is headed for another bloodbath as Robert Mugabe pushes for elections next year – with or without a new and democratic Constitution seen as critical to ensuring that any new polls are bloodless.\r\n

A defiant Mugabe said last Thursday that he was fed up with the “stupidity” of some of his disputes with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and wanted a delayed constitution-making process speeded up to enable elections to be held by mid-2011.

Responding for the first time to the latest dispute with Tsvangirai over the appointment of ambassadors and provincial governors, Mugabe said he wanted a new constitution to be ready by the end of the two-year term of Zimbabwe’s shaky coalition government next February.

“To give it another life of six months or one year no, no, no,” Mugabe said, referring to the coalition government he formed with Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in February 2009.

The coalition has been rocked by constant squabbling among the partners, with Tsvangirai and Mutambara regularly accusing Mugabe of making decisions without consulting them as required under a September 2008 power-sharing pact that led to the formation of the unity regime.

Appointments

The latest spat between the two rivals was triggered by Tsvangirai’s refusal to recognise some senior appointments made by Mugabe during the past few months in violation of the power-sharing pact –also known as the global political agreement (GPA) – which requires the ageing Zimbabwean leader to consult his coalition partners before appointing officials.

Tsvangirai two weeks wrote to the leaders of South Africa, Italy, Sweden, the European Union and United Nations asking them not to recognise six Zimbabwean ambassadors whom he said were unilaterally appointed by Mugabe.

He has also refused to recognise the legitimacy of the chief of police, the central bank governor, the attorney general, 10 ministers and five judges, all appointed by Mugabe alone.

This prompted South African President Jacob Zuma to send a three-member mediation team to try to resolve the Harare impasse.

Mugabe hinted that a referendum on the new Constitution would to be held earlier than the previously stated June 2011 to allow polls to be held by the middle of next year.

But analysts warned last week that trying to fast-track the Constitution drafting process would produce a flawed document that does not reflect the changes demanded by Zimbabweans.

“There is no way we can have a new constitution by the time the term of the inclusive government ends in February 2011 given the myriad of problems COPAC (Constitutional Parliamentary Committee) has faced since the committee was set up in April last year,” said Harare-based political analyst Donald Porusingazi.

The process to draft a new governance charter is more than a year behind schedule due to a combination of factors, including funding problems and bickering among the three parties to the GPA.

It has also been marred by violence allegedly perpetrated by ZANU PF militias led by the head of the war veterans association Jabulani Sibanda and members of the armed forces.

Forces of darkness

“It’s obvious that Mugabe and ZANU PF will try to capitalise on the constant disputes with the MDC to force an early election where they will unleash their forces of darkness on the hapless electorate,” Porusingazi added.

ZANU PF has been re-establishing militia training camps in some parts of the country and Tsvangirai’s MDC-T this month listed at least 50 incidents of violence and intimidation perpetrated by war veterans, police officers, soldiers, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives and pro-Mugabe traditional chiefs.

ZANU PF youths are known for using militia camps as torture basis where perceived opponents of Mugabe and his party are assaulted, raped, tortured or even murdered.

“Should this happen, the nation will be thrown back to the year 2008; Mugabe and ZANU PF will ‘win’ the elections and illegitimacy will be reinstated all over again,” Makumbe said.

He spoke of the threat of a fresh exodus of desperate Zimbabweans leaving the country to escape persecution, charging that SADC countries would have to brace themselves for the influx of political and economic refugees from Zimbabwe. – ZimOnline