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Vol 42 No 8

Published 20th April 2001


Zimbabwe

More of Mugabe

The President's insistence that he will fight the next election surprises few and worries almost everyone

The President's indecision is final. President Robert Mugabe's announcement on 17 April that he will contest the next presidential election as his party's flagbearer has resolved nothing (AC Vol 41 No 25). Many doubt that he has the support within his party to carry it through. His announcement was met with a deafening silence from senior figures in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and a predictable endorsement from loyalist Stalin Mau Mau. Mugabe's 'decision' is a blow to those ZANU-PF strategists who have been telling South African and Western officials that Mugabe should be allowed a graceful exit and a soft landing. Those options are now blocked. Even ultra-loyalist Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was confidently telling Western correspondents at the Davos Summit in Switzerland in February that Mugabe would definitely retire before the next elections. Mugabe's announcement has rekindled suspicions that he will call an early presidential election in July or August, which he will win by hook or crook, and then stand down to allow his chosen successor to take over: Emmerson Mnangagwa, as parliamentary Speaker, has been aloof from most of the partisan confrontations. That might just explain the current campaign of political terror in the towns by ZANU-PF and the 'war veterans'. Whenever Mugabe and ZANU-PF decide to hold the presidentials, the stakes will be high. Mugabe and his associates, aware that electoral defeat could bring imprisonment or worse, have abandoned all pretence of legality and economic rationality. The land occupations have run out of steam pending the promised eviction of white commercial farmers in mid-year to allow new settlers time to plant next season's crops. The focus has shifted to the cities and the mines.

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