Mugabe still in office because of fear – Tsvangirai

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    President Mugabe, 87, has been Zanu-PF’s leader since the 1960s when he led the party in a guerrilla war against British colonial rule.

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    He has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 and despite increasing concerns about his health, he has refused to step down.

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    Zanu-PF has of late been rocked by factionalism with senior party leaders jostling to position themselves ahead of their leader’s departure.

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    Mr Tsvangirai, who formed a unity government with President Mugabe in 2009, said the veteran ruler had confided in him that he now wanted to take a rest.

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    “I warned him and he wants out,” Mr Tsvangirai was quoted telling his supporters by the privately run NewsDay newspaper.

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    “I don’t know whether its fear, but he is old.

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    “He needs help from young people like me. He is just old.”

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    The statement came as debate intensified on the involvement of security forces in Zimbabwe’s politics.

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    Prostate cancer

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    Mr Tsvangirai is arguing that there was a ‘silent coup’ with the generals taking advantage of President Mugabe’s age and health problems to call the shots in government.

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    The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader also challenged the generals who have said they would not allow him to take over as president to leave the barracks and join politics full time.

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    But acting Defence minister Didymus Mutasa Tuesday told state media that Mr Tsvangirai’s remarks about President Mugabe and the generals were “stupid”.

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    “Tsvangirai should stop hiding behind unreasonable claims that soldiers are disturbing him,” Mr Mutasa said.

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    “It is his inability to run his party that is making him a failure.

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    “He should just run his party in peace and if he has failed, he should find someone else to run it.

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    “He should not be saying things about soldiers, saying President Mugabe is ill and all those stupid things.”

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    President Mugabe has visited Singapore more than five times since January amid reports that he was receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

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    However, in an interview with state media last month, he said he had only gone for an operation to remove a cataract in one of his eyes.

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    He said he expected to live beyond 100 and attributed the strong physical attributes that seem to defy his age to regular exercise.

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    A full summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Sandton last weekend was a setback for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

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    They had lobbied hard for the summit to rescind a highly critical report of the SADC’s security organ troika in Livingstone, Zambia on March 31.

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    The Livingstone communiqué, squarely based on a report to the summit by President Jacob Zuma, who is the Zimbabwe facilitator, had severely rebuked Zanu-PF (though not by name) for being slow in implementing its commitments to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which underpins the unity government, and for violence, arrests and intimidation of the MDC.

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    Though the Sandton summit only “noted” rather than “adopted” the Livingstone communiqué, this was apparently to save a little face for Mugabe. SADC executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salomão made it clear afterwards that the Sandton summit had not deleted a word from the Livingstone communiqué.

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    And Zuma’s report to the Sandton summit, though more conciliatory than his tough Livingstone report, also reiterated that “the Organ Troika resolution was still relevant, that there must be an immediate end of violence, intimidation, hate speech, harassment and any other form of action that contradicts the letter and spirit of the GPA”.

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    The Sandton summit also confirmed a decision at Livingstone which Zanu-PF had vehemently rejected, that three SADC officials should be attached to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) set up among the Zimbabwean parties to review GPA progress. Salomão confirmed that the three officers would be drawn from South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique.

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    Yet Zuma also referred to three reports by the Zimbabwean parties’ negotiators, which he said showed some progress since Livingstone.

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    These were the Elections Roadmap, signed on April 22, the Review Mechanism Report signed on April 7, a report of a workshop by the negotiators in Cape Town on May 5 and 6, and several Jomic reports.

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    These reports do show some progress, but also indicate that elections – which Zanu-PF wants this year – are still much further off as the conditions for holding them are far from conducive.

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    In particular, after making some concessions on other issues, the reports show Zanu-PF is clearly refusing to surrender any of the “hard power” – especially the control of the security forces – which has always been central to its dominance. For instance, the Elections Roadmap notes that both MDC factions want the government to “instruct the security forces to issue a public statement that they will unequivocally uphold the constitution and respect the rule of law in the lead up to and following any election or referendum”.

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    But Zanu-PF objects to this, insisting that “this is not an election matter. Political parties have no right to direct uniformed forces to issue political statements”.

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    On the related issue of violence, both MDC factions demand that the government “end military and police abuse of the rule of law and end all state-sponsored/sanctioned violence”.

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    Zanu-PF responds by denying such abuses, and demands evidence of them.

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    The MDCs also demand that “there should be demilitarisation; soldiers and other security personnel have been unlawfully deployed in the country and should thus be sent back to the barracks”.

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    Zanu-PF however retorts that “we deny that there are serving members of the military doing political work” and objects to the word “demilitarisation” as an inapplicable “war term”.

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    The MDCs both demand that Zimbabwe’s notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) now operating entirely through presidential fiat should be brought under legislative control.

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    Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC (MDC-T) also demands that the unity government must “enact an act of parliament regulating the operations of the CIO”.

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    The other MDC, headed by cabinet minister Welshman Ncube (MDC-N), concurs, adding that “this is an election issue” covered by the GPA principle that such state institutions “do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in their duties”.

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    But Zanu-PF again rejects such attempts at control, saying the CIO is neither a GPA nor an election issue and should be resolved in the constitution-making process.

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    At a workshop of the negotiators in Cape Town on May 4 and 5, there was a “serious dispute” among the parties over the CIO, according to a report by the facilitators.

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    It said that Zanu-PF claimed it was following the “British convention” of “administrative action” rather than legislative control, in managing the CIO.

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    The parties also disagree over the notorious Public Order and Security Act (Posa) which obliges political parties to get police permission to hold public meetings.

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    Both MDCs want Posa to be amended to prevent police abusing their discretionary powers to disadvantage opposition parties.

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