Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, fighting a tough election battle, has said he will not allow the opposition to take over power even if it wins Saturday’s crunch poll.
The veteran politician is facing the stiffest electoral challenge yet to his 28-year rule in the 29 March poll, with the opposition richly capitalising on an unprecedented economic crisis widely blamed on him.
There are indications Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony from independence in 1980 uninterrupted, might lose the election to the opposition because of widespread disenchantment with his handling of the economy.
Unofficial opinion polls have put opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whom Mugabe accuses of fronting for British interests, ahead of the Zimbabwean leader in the presidential race.
That, and the large crowds the opposition leader is attracting to his campaign rallies, have led to predictions Mugabe might be headed for the exit door in Saturday’s election.
But for the second time in a week, Mugabe, 84, has said he will not hand over power to the opposition whatever the outcome of the poll.
Campaigning in the second city, Bulawayo, he said voting for the opposition would be a waste of time as he would not transfer power to them.
This follows warnings from army chiefs that they would only accept a Mugabe victory.
“You can vote for them (Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders) but that will be a wasted vote. You will be cheating yourself as there is no way we can allow them to rule this country,” Mugabe said.
“We have a job to do and that is to protect our heritage. The MDC (Tsvangirai’s party) will not rule this country. It will never, ever happen,” he said.
The warnings by army generals and Mugabe’s refusal to concede defeat, if necessary, last week prompted the ruling African National Congress of South Africa to call on all parties in the election to accept the will of the people. Panapress.