A new formation of hardline supporters of Robert Mugabe – whose patron is his wife, Grace – is urging the government to abort the electoral process and instead reconstitute the old parliament dominated by the ruling ZANU PF party and let the veteran leader keep his job.
from our correspondent in Harare
The group of former freedom fighters yesterday said it wanted the June 27 second round presidential election shelved until Western countries lifted sanctions against Mugabe’s government, which the group said have hurt the economy and turned voters against the Harare administration.
Old Mugabe parliament to be re-constituted
The group, calling itself the Revolutionary Council and led by war veteran Chris Pasipamire, said its major objective was to defend Mugabe’s controversial land reforms that saw white farmers expelled and their farms handed over to blacks, most of them supporters or top officials of ZANU PF.
“As the Revolutionary Council we hereby demand that the whole electoral process be set aside and the old parliament be re-constituted with President Mugabe remaining the head of state,” said the group that announced its arrival on Zimbabwe’s political scene late on Wednesday night.
“No run-off (election) will be held until the sanctions are lifted . . .
elections are not a priority now as they serve no purpose except regime change,” the war veterans group said.
War veterans are key allies of Mugabe who he often uses as shock troops to intimidate political opponents.
While Pasipamire said Grace was the patron of the Revolutionary Council,
Mugabe’s wife was not immediately available to confirm her role in the
organisation or whether she subscribed to its call to abort the electoral
She is currently in Rome, Italy “probably spending most of her time shopping while Mugabe is attending the UN Food and Agriculture Organization summit” said a reporter.
Mugabe’s wife advotcates for dictatorship
But Grace last week told ZANU PF supporters that her husband would never handover power to opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Moragn Tsvangirai even if he were to win the second round presidential election later this month.
Grace – 40 years junior to the 84-year old Mugabe and known for her love for shopping – said her husband would give up power only to someone from his ZANU PF party.
The run-off election is being held because Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March 29 poll but failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote needed to take power under the country’s electoral laws.
Tsvangirai, who polled 47.8 percent of the vote in March against Mugabe’s 43.2 percent starts as favourite to win the run-off election. However, analysts say political violence that has to date killed at least 60 MDC supporters and displaced thousands others might just tilt the scales in favour of Mugabe.
But MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa on Thursday dismissed the Revolutionary Council as a ZANUPF-sponsored group out to sow confusion ahead of the run-off poll.
Chamisa said: “The run-off is a legal requirement . . . we don’t care a jot
about a ZANU PF-sponsored organisation afraid that Mugabe’s time is up.”
Detention of US diplomats
Meanwhile, the Mugabe regime yesterday indefinitely suspended all work by aid groups while police held a group of U.S. and British diplomats for several hours after they visited victims of political violence ahead of a presidential vote.
The United States blamed the seven diplomats’ detention firmly on Mugabe’s government, which Washington accuses of trying to intimidate opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s supporters ahead of the June 27 run-off election.
Aid work was suspended nearly a week after Mugabe’s government banned some aid groups from distributing food, accusing them of campaigning for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in elections held on March 29.
U.S. ambassador James McGee said police stopped the diplomats’ vehicles at a roadblock and slashed their tyres. Mugabe supporters threatened to set the vehicles ablaze unless the diplomats went with police to a nearby station, he said.
The diplomats, also accused by the government of distributing campaign
literature for Tsvangirai, were released after several hours.
Aid agencies accused of irregularities.
“A number of NGOs involved in humanitarian operations are breaching the terms and conditions of their registration […] I hereby instruct all PVOs (Private Voluntary Organisations)/NGOs to suspend all field operations until further notice,” said Nicholas Goche, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.