Mugabe’s aide claims fiery statement was taken out or context

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President Robert Mugabe’s chief election agent, Emmerson Mnangagwa sunday ruled out any likelihood that the Zanu-PF leader will refuse to vacate office in the event he loses the forthcoming presidential election run-off.

from our correspondent in Harare

Mnangagwa said Mugabe was an honourable statesman who respects the will of the people. He said any fears that he might attempt to stage a coup in the event of electoral defeat were far-fetched.

He says it would not be the first time Mugabe would have lost an election citing a constitutional referendum in February 2000 “and accepted defeat with grace”.

But he was quick to add that Mugabe was not contemplating defeat in the run off, now set for June 27. “We are very, very confident we will win this election,” Mnangagwa said. “We have lost before. In February 2000, we lost and accepted defeat. If the President loses, we will be the first to go on national television to say we accept the verdict of the people. He is a very principled hero.”

Mnangagwa said he himself had lost his Kwekwe seat twice in a row and accepted defeat. Mnangagwa lost the 2000 parliamentary election and lost again in 2005 to the MDC’s Blessing Chebundo. On March 29, he finally won a parliamentary seat, Chirumanzu/Zibagwe, a rural constituency created after the expansion of Parliament from 120 electable seats to 210.

“I have lost twice here and accepted,” Mnangagwa said. “You can see how mature we are. Once ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) announces the result and the President has lost, I am the chief election agent, I will go to him and say, ‘Mr President you have lost’, straight. We brought democracy. We must defend it.”

Mnangagwa said statements made by Mugabe that he will never allow Tsvangirai to rule Zimbabwe, had been taken out of context by the media. Mugabe has said “never, never, ever will we allow Tsvangirai to rule,” ostensibly because that would be tantamount to recolonisation. Mnangagwa said it was a metaphorical statement.

“He believes that will not happen, because he believes he will win,” he said. He denied that Zanu-PF had, as a matter of policy, sanctioned the violence currently engulfing the country but admitted that there was escalating post election violence.

“We are very grateful to our people that they held the election in peace,” he said. “But after the election we had skirmishes in the three Mashonaland provinces and in Manicaland. We promote the concept of peace. In fact we are Christians. We believe in peace. This should be the culture everywhere – runyararo (peace) throughout.”

On threats made by army generals that they would not hand over power to Tsvangirai even if he won the run off because he did not have liberation war credentials, he refused to comment.

“I cannot speak on behalf of the generals,” he said. “But this has nothing to do with Zanu-PF. Those were individual statements. You should ask them. I don’t know if it was individualistic or is it collective.”

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