Foreign Minister mission to calm tensions with SADC member States

HARARE – Zimbabwe coalition government Foreign Affairs Minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi says Zimbabwe stands guided by the dictates of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in coming up with elections scheduled for later this year.

Mumbengegwi said the attacks had no connection with government’s position towards Sadc and the resolutions passed by its Organ on Politics, Defence and Security three weeks ago in Livingstone, Zambia.

“There was an appreciation that the attacks were not coming from the government,” Mumbengegwi told journalists after meeting ambassadors from Sadc member countries.

“You cannot attribute attacks from an individual to government. You know who speaks for the party and who speaks for the government.”

The meeting was held after the ambassadors demanded an explanation on Zimbabwe’s position on Sadc following a string of attacks on the person of Zuma, the South African President, in the state-controlled media.

Resolutions made by the Sadc Troika on Politics, Defence and Security in Livingstone were roundly attacked in the same media.

Jonathan Moyo, a Zanu PF politburo member, and The Sunday Mail led the crusade against Zuma and the Sadc Troika.

Sell-outs

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is reportedly beset by ill-health and divisions in his party, admitted Thursday that there were "sell-outs" within the ranks of Zanu-PF, which has ruled the country for the last 31 years.

His appearance at Heroes Acre in Harare was closely watched, since the 87-year-old autocrat has made fewer public appearances than usual in recent months due to his health.

Mugabe returned at he weekend from his fourth visit to Singapore for medical treatment since December.

Mugabe has insisted on holding elections this year, even if a wide range of democratic and electoral reforms set for the country’s two-year-old coalition government are not met, amid concerns in his party over worsening factionalism.

"If you are raising your fist, are you a true supporter of the party?" Mugabe asked the party top brass assembled at Heroes Acre. The Zanu-PF party salute is with a clenched fist.

"Some of you are sell-outs and you are telling the secrets of the party," he charged.

Mugabe spoke for an hour at the gathering to pay tribute to deputy chief of his secret police, Menard Muzariri who died on Monday at the age of 56.

Muzariri, he said, had exposed the spies within the party.

Mugabe appeared relaxed and comfortable, but walking with some difficulty down some steps at the site. Two weeks ago, at a meeting of regional leaders in Zambia, he looked gaunt and exhausted, and was transported around the venue in a golf cart.

Assertions by officials that Mugabe’s trips to Singapore were for cataract surgery are not widely accepted, with observers convinced that his condition is more serious.

"Each time he leaves for Singapore, he appears worn out and unsteady on his feet," said a medical specialist who asked not to be named. "And then he comes back looking revived. It appears he is undergoing some kind of restorative therapy."

Mugabe is also under acute pressure for the first time from leaders of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The regional political bloc wants to see an end to violence, intimidation, hate speech and malicious arrest of supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirais Movement for Democratic Change.

A fortnight ago, he lashed out at SADC, and accused it of interfering in Zimbabwe’s affairs. Observers said it was significant that he did not repeat this defiance Thursday.

Instead, Mugabe denounced what he said were the "unnatural things" happening in Europe and Britain in particular, "where women become men and men become women, and the British want to call their country a gaydom, instead of a kingdom."

"Dogs will become men and our people will become partners with bitches and bulldogs. That is not our culture. You can keep your filth to yourselves."