Tag Archives: Morgan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwe – Mujuru and Tsvangirai form alliance to fight Mugabe

NehandaRadio

Tsvangirai, Mujuru finally seal poll pact

By Fungi Kwaramba

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joice Mujuru yesterday fired warning shots at President Robert Mugabe and his warring ruling Zanu PF — signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Harare ahead of the finalisation of the planned grand coalition as the make-or-break 2018 elections approach.

Tsvangirai and Mujuru form alliance to challenge Mugabe
Tsvangirai and Mujuru form alliance to challenge Mugabe

This comes as the mindless bloodletting that is devouring Zanu PF has escalated in the past few weeks, resulting even in the party’s national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, coming under serious pressure to resign from his post over a slew of charges — including bizarre claims of plotting to oust Mugabe from power.

Describing yesterday’s developments as historic, a buoyant Tsvangirai said the two opposition leading lights had decided to join hands after realising that Mugabe and Zanu PF had “no clue” about how to end the myriad challenges afflicting Zimbabwe.

“We have chosen to give hope to the people of Zimbabwe … that indeed there is a bright light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

“We have taken the first step to bring all Zimbabweans under one roof so that we can work together to remove the unmitigated repression and misgovernance that pervades our lives.

“I am pleased to inform the nation that today we have signed a memorandum with Mai Mujuru of the National People’s Party (NPP) … to establish a pre-election alliance en route to the establishment of a coalition government which shall drive a comprehensive democratisation and transformation agenda.

“This is just the beginning of the building blocks towards establishing a broad alliance to confront Zanu PF between now and 2018,” Tsvangirai said.

The indefatigable former labour union leader emphasised that the door had not been slammed on other smaller parties being part of the pact, with “similar arrangements” to be decided with them soon.

“While political parties have their role in nation-building, it must be understood that they are not the only key stakeholders.

“We are in this together with other key stakeholders such as traditional leaders, the Church, labour, vendors, war veterans, civic society, business and the generality of Zimbabweans.

“This is our collective struggle and I call upon the people of Zimbabwe to join hands with us and play their part as well so that we can reclaim our country, our freedom and our dignity,” Tsvangirai added.

“Even at the ripe old age of 93, president Mugabe knows that the country’s crisis is unsustainable. Every Zimbabwean from every station of life knows it too.

“So, we should all stand together in unison and say enough is enough. As president Mugabe enters the sunset of his life, it is incumbent upon all of us to pick the pieces and rebuild our country together.

“I hope the understanding we reached today, and which we will reach with many others, will culminate in a solid political co-operation agreement that should usher in a new governance culture in our country,” he said further.

On her part, Mujuru promised “greater things” for long-suffering Zimbabweans.

“We were being asked by people wherever we would go about when we would form the coalition. It took about six months to discuss the coalition.

“We know your expectations are very high … what we want to see is a greater Zimbabwe again … We are going to deliver a new Zimbabwe,” she said.

According to the two opposition leaders, the MoU would act as a roadmap towards forming the planned grand coalition which is expected to be in place before next year’s eagerly-anticipated national elections.

Optimism has been high ever since Tsvangirai and Mujuru publicly flaunted their readiness to join forces against the ruling party, when they appeared together in Gweru last August.

In a move that political analysts described as “very significant”, Mujuru held hands and also joined Tsvangirai then during a massive demonstration in Gweru that was organised by the former prime minister in the government of national unity’s MDC.

Analysts have also repeatedly said Mujuru, whose liberation struggle nom de guerre was Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood), and whose husband Solomon was the first black post-independence army commander, could provide the much-needed bridge that opposition parties have been missing to ensure the smooth transfer of power if they win elections again.

However, they have also warned that without a broad coalition involving all the major opposition players, Zanu PF would use “its usual thuggish and foul methods” to retain power in 2018.

In 2008, her late husband Rex was accused by Mugabe and other Zanu PF bigwigs of having engineered the 93-year-old’s stunning electoral defeat to Tsvangirai in that year’s hotly disputed polls.

Last week, a bullish Tsvangirai vowed to finish off Mugabe and his deeply-divided Zanu PF — adding that he stood ready to lead the planned grand coalition.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily News then, Tsvangirai said he had “no doubt whatsoever” that the MDC — working together with other opposition parties — would, like it did in 2008, once again defeat Zanu PF in 2018 and bring to an end Mugabe’s long but tumultuous rule.

“I stand ready to heed the calls by Zimbabweans that I lead … Indeed, when I moved across the country, the people said I should lead.

“So, if that is what people want, then I am ready to lead the coalition. But this should not be about individuals but about Zimbabwe.

“Indeed, the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe is not between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, but between long-suffering Zimbabweans and a heartless, looting Zanu PF,” Tsvangirai said.

“The commitment towards forming a grand coalition is there … But we must exercise due diligence in regard to our partners.

“Imagine at the end, just before elections you have people who will say ‘I was not part of the talks’ … so due diligence is very important,” added the dogged former labour union leader, as he explained why it was taking long to conclude the mooted coalition talks.

Soon after, Mujuru signalled her readiness to join Tsvangirai in the planned electoral pact when she said the mooted grand opposition coalition was the only way of extricating the country from its economic problems.

“As NPP, we believe that what ought to be 37 years of independence has been turned into 37 years of slavery and misery to Zimbabweans.

“We believe we have capacity as Zimbabweans to extricate ourselves out of the social, economic and political mess we find ourselves in as a result of Zanu PF’s failed government.

“It is time that all progressive forces within the rank and file of opposition parties put their differences aside and face the failed Zanu PF government as a united front by every constitutional means necessary come 2018.

“Our people never went to war so that the destiny of our country can be turned into political dynasties.

“Zimbabweans deserve to be free and that freedom has to be exercised now. To that end, as NPP we urge all the progressive forces within the rank and file of the opposition parties of this country to go back to the basics of the revolutionary ideals of oneness.

“It is our belief as NPP that what divides us as opposition political parties is smaller than what binds us as a country. Our motto should therefore be united we stand, divided we fall,” she said.

BBC

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses a rally to mark the country"s 37th independence anniversary in Harare, Zimbabwe, April 18, 2017.Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Robert Mugabe has said he is not losing sleep over the coalition

Two of Zimbabwe’s best known opposition figures have agreed to form an alliance against President Robert Mugabe.

Long-time Mugabe critic Morgan Tsvangirai and former Vice-President Joice Mujuru say they will work together in next year’s election.

However, it is not yet clear which of them will be the presidential candidate.

Mr Mugabe, 93, has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980 and has said he will seek re-election.

“This is just the beginning of the building blocks towards establishing a broad alliance to confront Zanu-PF between now and the next election,” Mr Tsvangirai told journalists.


Real test lies ahead: Shingai Nyoka, BBC News, Harare

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (L) and fomer Vice President Joice Mujuru(R) sign a Memorandum of Understanding to negotiate coalition ahead of 2018 general election in Harare April 19th 2017Image copyright AFP

The alliance is an important first step towards uniting a deeply divided opposition.

And if this alliance succeeds it will be the first time President Mugabe has faced a united opposition on this scale since coming into power in 1980.

At least a dozen parties are expected to be part of the coalition.

Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru who was fired from the ruling Zanu-PF party in 2014 was the first to sign a pact with Morgan Tsvangirai. She says it follows six months of consultations.

A Movement for Democratic Change splinter group has now also come on board.

Divisions among the opposition have been blamed for previous electoral losses.

For the first time, Mr Tsvangirai apologised for this and accepted responsibility for the mistakes made in the past. His party has split four ways since it was formed in 1999.

Ms Mujuru’s National People’s Party recently splintered after less than a year.

But the real test for the opposition lies ahead. The parties still need to hammer out the terms of this alliance. In particular who will lead the coalition.

President Mugabe is a formidable opponent. He has been accused of stealing elections and using violence to stay in power.


Mr Mugabe has previously said he would not be losing any sleep over the proposed coalition.

Mr Tsvangirai has run against Mr Mugabe several times since he helped found the Movement for Democratic Change.

Each time he has said he was denied victory because of violence and rigging – charges denied by Mr Mugabe and his allies.

He became prime minister in a tension-filled coalition government with Mr Mugabe from 2009 until 2013.

Ms Mujuru was vice-president to Mr Mugabe for 10 years until she was fired in 2014.

Zimbabwe opposition demands UN and AU role in conducting 2018 elections

Reuters

A fruit vendor pushes a cart past sitting police ahead of a planned demonstration by opposition parties against changes to the voter registration process in Harare
     

A fruit vendor pushes a cart past sitting police ahead of a planned demonstration by opposition parties against changes to the voter registration process in Harare, Zimbabwe March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
Riot police members are deployed on the streets ahead of a planned demonstration by opposition parties against changes to the voter registration process in Harare
Riot police members are deployed on the streets ahead of a planned demonstration by opposition parties against changes to the voter registration process in Harare, Zimbabwe March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE Zimbabwean opposition parties demanded on Wednesday that presidential elections next year be conducted by a committee set up by the United Nations and African Union because they had lost confidence in the neutrality of the local election agency.

President Robert Mugabe, 94 and in power for 30 years, is due to run again.

Leaders from several political parties, including Movement for Democratic Change’s Morgan Tsvangirai, told a few hundred supporters during a protest rally in the capital that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had failed to be partial and should be disbanded.

Police deployed water cannon and anti-riot officers on the streets of the capital throughout the day after confining the protesters to an open space on the edge of the city centre.

The opposition parties, who were united under a National Election Reform Agenda (NERA), were protesting against changes to the voter registration process and said they would rally behind Tsvangirai to face Mugabe in the presidential vote.

Anti-government protests in August descended into some of the worst violence seen in the southern African nation for two decades as anger over economic hardship boiled over.

NERA chairman Farai Mbire said the United Nations, African Union and the Southern African Development Community “must immediately establish an independent, tripartite election management body to take over the full functions of ZEC.”

The opposition parties also said Mugabe’s government should back off from its decision to take over the purchase of biometric voter registration kits from the United Nations.

They fear this will make it easier for Mugabe’s ZANU-PF to skew the list of eligible voters in its favour.

Mbire did not say what would happen if Mugabe’s government rejected their demands. ZANU-PF legal secretary and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the state-run Herald newspaper that it was ZEC’s constitutional right to run elections.

Anti-riot police allowed a handful of NERA officials to present a petition to the offices of ZEC.

Zimbabwe is due to hold its next presidential and parliamentary election by July 2018. Mugabe has been endorsed as the ruling party’s presidential candidate.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ed Cropley/Jeremy Gaunt)

Zimbabwe – opposition politicians squabble over 2018 election coalition

Zimbabwe Independent

THAT a coalition of opposition political parties and movements is seen as a formidable force to end President Robert Mugabe’s prolonged rule appears to be an open secret for many Zimbabweans pinning their hopes on a political solution to halt socio-economic implosion.

By Wongai Zhangazha

But haggling, jostling and inflated egos have impeded progress towards a pact.

The better part of 2016 saw the idea to form a united front to remove Mugabe from power in the 2018 general elections hanging in the balance as opposition parties spent time focussing on serious contestations and jockeying for power before formal negotiations had even begun.

Mugabe’s controversial rule has been characterised by massive company closures, deteriorating public health facilities, increased poverty levels, high unemployment, among other signs of failure. This has given social movements and political parties the impetus to coalesce and challenge his stay in power.

Mugabe will be 94 when Zimbabwe goes to the 2018 elections.

However, sectarian differences among the opposition parties have undermined the nascent pact as political actors scramble to position their preferred candidates in the race to lead the coalition.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe People First leader Joice Mujuru are seen as front runners to lead the coalition.

Mujuru’s supporters want her to lead the coalition because they say she has liberation credentials while MDC-T members say their leader Tsvangirai has been in the opposition trenches longer and has beaten Mugabe before in the 2008 March elections.

Moreover, some opposition parties do not trust Mujuru, saying her decision to form a political party was not out of choice but the result of ejection from a party she served for 34 years in various capacities including that of vice-president.

In Bulawayo at the MDC-T’s 17th anniversary celebrations last year the slogan was “2018 Tsvangirai chete chete” (Tsvangirai for president 2018), a warning that they will not accept another person leading the coalition.

However, Tsvangirai’s disclosure that he was battling cancer of the colon reignited fierce debate as to who should lead the coalition.

Parties in the coalition talks have attacked each other publicly. An example is People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti’s acerbic attack on Tsvangirai in December, denouncing him as foolish and tactless.

This made it even more difficult for the fragmented opposition parties to work together.

Tsvangirai, in a statement, hit back in apparent reference to Biti, saying his party sought a pact “that minimises the unknowns by providing an equitable and scientific and objective basis for approaching the election based on known strengths of political leaders and parties nationally and in given electoral districts”.

Analysts said Tsvangirai’s type of coalition shuts out the likes of Biti, whose PDP party has not contested in any election since its formation two years ago.

In May, five opposition parties formed a coalition called the Coalition of Democrats (Code) to challenge Mugabe and his Zanu PF party in the 2018 general elections.

The parties were Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn led by Simba Makoni, Welshman Ncube’s Movement for Democratic Change formation, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe led by Elton Mangoma, Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment and Zimbabweans United for Democracy.

PDP and Zapu led by liberation icon Dumiso Dabengwa were not eager to join the coalition, saying they wanted to consult their members.

Three months later, 20 opposition political parties came together to form the National Electoral Reforms Agenda (Nera) to push for electoral reforms ahead of the elections.

The move was seen as a precursor to an electoral pact.

Some political parties met in South Africa last year in talks to concretise a coalition but it was snubbed by both ZimPF and MDC-T.

In September last year Nera tried to organise demonstrations against Mugabe and his government but they flopped after it was crushed by the police. Despite the promise of more protests, they never materialised.

Political analysts this week said the bickering among opposition political parties should stop in 2017 as this year is critical for opposition parties to demonstrate maturity and agree on how best they can work together ahead of the elections in 2018.

Mugabe warns protestors there will be no Arab Spring in Zimbabwe

Reuters

Zimbabwean opposition supporters carry rocks during clashes with police in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 26,2016.REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
By MacDonald Dzirutwe | HARARE

President Robert Mugabe warned protesters on Friday there would be no “Arab Spring” in Zimbabwe after anti-government demonstrations descended it to some of the worst violence seen in the southern African nation for two decades.

Zimbabwean police fired tear gas and water cannon at opposition leaders and hundreds of demonstrators at a protest against Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF, before unrest swept across large parts of the capital Harare.

“They are thinking that what happened in the Arab Spring is going to happen in this country but we tell them that it is not going to happen here,” Mugabe told state television, referring to a series of uprisings that toppled leaders across the Arab world.

Mugabe accused Western countries, including the United States, of sponsoring the protests.

“They are fighting because of Americans,” said Mugabe.

Earlier, opposition head Morgan Tsvangirai and former vice president Joice Mujuru fled a rally in their cars while protesters ran for cover as police broke up the core of the demonstration. However, anti-Mugabe leaders warned that this would be the first of a series of protests.

Mugabe’s opponents have become emboldened by rising public anger and protests over an economic meltdown, cash shortages and high unemployment. Mugabe, 92, has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Clashes spread through the streets of the capital Harare as riot police fought running battles with protesters who hurled rocks at officers, set tyres ablaze and burned a popular market to the ground, in some of the worst unrest since food riots in 1998.

Didymus Mutasa, a senior official from Mujuru’s party and convener of Friday’s protest, vowed to repeat the demonstration a week from now and blamed police for the violence and disobeying a court order allowing the march to proceed.

“If that was intended to cow us from demonstrating, I want to say the opposite has been the case. We are going next Friday to do exactly the same as we have done today,” Mutasa told reporters.

Most businesses shut down early on Friday fearing looting by protesters. Mujuru said 50 people were injured and hospitalised.

“Mugabe’s rule must end now, that old man has failed us,” said one protester before throwing a rock at a taxi.

RIOT POLICE

More than a hundred police officers in riot gear, backed up by water cannons and armoured trucks, occupied the venue that opposition parties planned to use for their demonstration.

As opposition supporters arrived for the march, they were told by the police to leave. The officers then fired tear gas and water cannon when parts of the crowd refused to comply.

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said the force was still assessing the day’s events. “We will let you know once we are done,” she said.

Officials from Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party were unavailable for comment.

“Demonstrating is the only solution left to force the dictator out of office,” said Tapfuma Make, an unemployed 24-year-old from Chitungwiza town, south of Harare.

Zimbabwe’s High Court earlier ruled that police should allow the protest to proceed between 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. (1000-1400 GMT) in what Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) called a “victory for democracy”.

“Today has been for me the worst day that I have lived in this country, where I have observed with my own eyes, the state breaking its own laws and the state starting violence by attacking people who were just gathered together,” Mutasa said.

Opposition parties leading the protests say the electoral agency is biased in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF and is run by security agents loyal to Mugabe, charges the commission denies.

The protesters want the next vote in 2018 to be supervised by international observers, including the United Nations. They are also calling for Mugabe to fire corrupt ministers, scrap plans to introduce local bank notes and end cash shortages.

The latest demonstrations come nearly two months after the biggest large scale ‘stay at home’ strike in Zimbabwe since 2007, inspired by social media movements such as #ThisFlag led by pastor Evan Mawarire.

Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo on Thursday called opposition leaders “foreign agents” using protests to cause chaos in order to justify international intervention.

(Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by James Macharia and Andrew Heavens)

Zimbabwe – latest on Harare protests and police reaction

News24

As it happened: Zim’s anti-Mugabe protest

2016-08-26 17:30

Get the latest details as Zimbabwe opposition parties go ahead with the planned grand demonstration to press for the implementation of electoral reforms.

Zimbabwe protests

LIVE NEWS FEEDJump to
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Last Updated at 18:26
18:02

Opposition leaders say there will be another protest next week on Friday in Harare, according to social media reports 


17:48

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change meantime accused Mugabe’s government of “working very hard to provoke the law-abiding citizens of this country” after riot police attacked citizens planning to take part in what had been billed a “mega” march by a combined 18 opposition parties.

A court had ruled that the march could go ahead.”[Police] assaulted and rained teargas in the city centre and at the Freedom Square near the Harare magistrates’ court,” MDC spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said in a statement.

Unrest is rising in Zimbabwe five months after a church pastor posted a video about his frustration with corruption and poverty and in so doing, launched the #ThisFlag protest movement.

Evan Mawarire has since left Zimbabwe but some of the protesters on Friday sported the national flag.

#ThisFlag organisers have consistently called for protesters not to be violent.

Opposition leaders have said they will reschedule the march for next Friday.


17:47

From News24’s correspondent 

Zimbabwe’s ageing president on Friday warned opposition supporters against trying to stage “an Arab spring” as he left the country for a conference in Kenya while police with tear gas and batons clamped down hard on protesters in Harare.

The state Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said Mugabe, 92, accused the opposition of embarking on a “path of violence” but vowed an Arab Spring would not happen in Zimbabwe.

“[Mugabe] said the violent opposition groups engaging in violence should understand that they’re fighting for foreign forces that have left people suffering after removing democratically elected governments,” ZBC added.

The report said that Mugabe was destined for Kenya where he will attend the Tokyo Conference on African Development.


17:44

Tsvangirai: people’s anger and desperation is very deep. It mustn’t relent. I’m glad Zimbabweans are saying enough is enough – social media

14:59

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai on police brutality: 

14:55


14:39

Daily News reports that the leader of Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), former vice president of the southern African country is set to address a press conference shortly. 

14:36


14:34

Take a look at some of the pictures from today’s grand anti-Mugabe protest in Harare.  

14:08

Skirmishes continue between riot police and protesters in Harare city centre – social media reports 

14:06

Opposition set to hold a press conference at 15:00 – social media reports

13:54


13:53


13:50

From News24’s Correspondent in Harare:

It was the image of one small dead dog that summed up both the rage and heartbreak in Zimbabwe as anti-government protesters tried to hold a “mega” march on Friday.

As helicopters hovered overhead at midday and riot police tried to force opposition supporters to disperse, someone tore down the road sign for Robert Mugabe Road and photographed it lying on the tarmac next to the body of a small white dog.There was little doubting the symbolism of the picture.

“No road through for a dead dog,” crowed one Twitter user, referring of course to the longtime Zimbabwe leader who, though aged and increasingly frail, shows no sign of wanting to step down.

“A group essentially saying Mugabe is a dead dog,” explained @ConcernedZimCitizen.But had the animal been killed by protesters, as the official Herald immediately suggested?Tweeted the newspaper, which is fiercely loyal to the 92-year-old president: “Hoodlums contravening the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act as they demonstrate downtown.”

Prominent publisher @TrevorNcube thought they hadn’t, no doubt echoing the hopes of many animal-lovers in this southern African country.

Some Mugabe watchers claim that the 92-year-old president appeared at the Harare Agricultural Show on Thursday incongruously sporting soft indoor shoes in a possible sign of infirmity.

The claim has not been independently verified.Police have used teargas to try to stop protesters gathering for Friday’s march to press for electoral reforms. The High Court said it should go ahead at midday.

But home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo threatened would-be protesters in a televised statement on Thursday night, and there are mounting fears of violence.

Prominent activists Stern Zworwadza and Promise Mkwananzi were picked up by police on Friday, according to rights group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

Zimbabwe – police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators

Nehanda R

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

Zimbabwean police on Friday fired teargas and a water cannon to disperse anti-government supporters, who responded by hurling rocks, as a protest against President Robert Mugabe turned violent.

Anti-Mugabe protesters have become increasingly angry amid economic turmoil that has left cash shortages and high unemployment. Credit: Reuters

Anti-Mugabe protesters have become increasingly angry amid economic turmoil that has left cash shortages and high unemployment. Credit: Reuters
Anti-Mugabe protesters have become increasingly angry amid economic turmoil that has left cash shortages and high unemployment. Credit: Reuters

More than a hundred police officers in riot gear, backed up by water cannons and armoured trucks, occupied the venue that opposition parties planned to use for their march.

Mugabe’s opponents have become emboldened by rising public anger and protests over an economic meltdown, cash shortages and high unemployment. Mugabe, 92, has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

As opposition supporters arrived for the march, they were told by the police to leave. The officers then fired teargas and a water cannon when parts of the crowd refused to comply, a Reuters witness reported.

A woman ran past teargas as opposition party supporters clashed with police in Harare. Credit: Reuters

A woman ran past teargas as opposition party supporters clashed with police in Harare. Credit: Reuters
A woman ran past teargas as opposition party supporters clashed with police in Harare. Credit: Reuters

A few dozen supporters, who earlier chanted anti-Mugabe slogans, threw rocks at the police and burned tyres on the roadside near the square where the protest was due to start.

“We are not going anywhere and demonstrating is the only solution left to force the dictator out of office,” said Tapfuma Make, an unemployed 24-year-old from Chitungwiza town, south of the capital Harare.

Opponents of Robert Mugabe armed themselves with rocks during the clashes. Credit: Reuters

Opponents of Robert Mugabe armed themselves with rocks during the clashes. Credit: Reuters
Opponents of Robert Mugabe armed themselves with rocks during the clashes. Credit: Reuters

Zimbabwe’s High Court ruled that police should allow the protest to proceed between 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. (1000-1400 GMT).

“We view this as a victory for democracy. The demonstration is going ahead,” MDC secretary general Douglas Mwonzora told reporters following the court’s decision.

Opposition parties leading the protests say the electoral commission is biased in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF and is run by security agencies loyal to Mugabe, charges the commission denies.

nera demo 4

nera demo 4The protesters want the next vote in 2018 to be supervised by international observers, including the United Nations. They are also calling for Mugabe to fire corrupt ministers, scrap plans to introduce local bank notes and end cash shortages.

Opposition leader and head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, and former vice president Joice Mujuru will lead the demonstration, which they expect to draw thousands of supporters.

Zimbabwe’s police used teargas and a water cannon on Wednesday to break-up a march by MDC youth supporters who were protesting over economic mismanagement and what they say is brutality by security agencies.

Zimbabwe – Mugabe says he will hold on to power “until God comes”

Reuters

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe addresses the ZANU-PF party’s top decision making body, the Politburo, in the capital Harare, February 10, 2016.
REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO

When U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon urged African leaders not to cling to power at a summit last month, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe responded by saying he would continue “until God says ‘come'”.

Mugabe turns 92 on Sunday and, judging by those comments, has no intention of stepping down – despite being Africa’s oldest leader and the only president Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980.

His life presidency aspirations could frustrate the feuding big-hitters of his ruling ZANU-PF party who have been trying for years to position themselves for a post-Mugabe political era.

They will also fuel criticism from opponents of the government, who say the internal conflict is distracting it from its job of dealing with a stagnating economy and responding to the worst drought in a generation – charges denied by ministers.

“Amid this looming starvation, coupled with an economy on the ropes, no one is paying attention to this national crisis. There is no government response as ZANU-PF is too pre-occupied with the succession issue of President Mugabe,” main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Tuesday.

Critics blame Mugabe for many of the problems facing the country. They say his policies, including the seizures and redistribution of white-owned commercial farms, drove one of Africa’s most promising economies into nearly a decade of deep recession until 2008 that cut its output almost in half.

They also say Zimbabwe’s sluggish economy and low productivity – the jobless rate is around 85 percent – has left it ill-equipped to deal with the drought, which has left 3 million people in need of food aid, about a quarter of the population.

For his part, Mugabe defends his land seizures as necessary to correct colonial injustices and says the economy has fallen victim to sanctions by Western countries that are punishing him for seizing white-owned land.

WHEELBARROW

Mugabe remains in charge of day-to-day running of his government. He still presides over graduations at all state universities and military passing-out parades, and takes trips abroad.

The president maintains that his party will choose a successor. But he plans to contest the next election in 2018 aged 94, seeking his last five-year term under a new constitution that would see him through to 99.

His wife Grace, a powerful figure in ZANU-PF in her own right, told party supporters last week that he was the only one who could keep Zimbabwe “intact and peaceful”, adding she would push him in a wheelbarrow to work if he was unable to walk.

“From analysing the political situation, his political speeches, his political actions, it is increasingly becoming clear that he is gunning to be there for as long as he lives,” said Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

Despite his old age, Mugabe remains the glue holding together his fractious ZANU-PF, which dominates the political scene. He enjoys support from the military, an institution that has been a major pillar of his long rule.

Many Zimbabweans follow his health with keen interest, especially after assertions by Wikileaks that he might have prostate cancer – which he denied. With Mugabe having ruled for 36 years, some people fear the government could be paralysed and the country riven by instability should he die without resolving the succession issue.

Last year he read out the wrong speech in parliament, which the opposition seized upon to question whether he was still of sound mind, though the president’s spokesman blamed his aides.

His reluctance to cede power could frustrate ZANU-PF grandees with ambitions for his throne.

Several leading party figures have presidential aspirations, but Emmerson Mnangagwa has been regarded as heir apparent to Mugabe. He was made vice president in 2014 following the sacking of Joice Mujuru, another faction leader who had been also tipped for the top job after holding the office for a decade.

Mnangagwa has since cemented his position by getting allies appointed to important cabinet posts and securing the tasks of reforming the economy and legal system.

‘CROCODILE’

But the vice president – nicknamed ‘Crocodile’, which he says reflects his ability to strike at the opportune time – is opposed by a group labelled G-40 by local media, comprising young government ministers and ZANU-PF members rallying behind Grace Mugabe, including the party’s women’s wing.

Grace is widely regarded in the party as another potential successor, even though she says she has no such ambitions.

The group says Mugabe should be allowed to die in office and has exchanged insults with Mnangagwa’s acolytes, accusing them of plotting to overthrow the president – charges they deny.

Mnangagwa himself has not responded to such accusations, but his allies in ZANU-PF and the military privately express unease at the influence that the First Lady wields on the president. They say the G-40 group is trying to isolate Mugabe from his old comrades.

At last week’s party rally, Grace said some unnamed people were plotting to physically remove Mugabe and harm his family, accusations similar to ones she made in 2014 against Mujuru, who was then regarded as the most likely successor to Mugabe.

The campaign against Mujuru led to Mugabe denouncing her before party loyalists as leader of a “treacherous cabal” bent on removing him from power, and firing her.

Grace Mugabe has hinted Mnangagwa may not be the chosen one after all.

“They go around saying Mrs Mugabe wants to lead, I am already in charge. Those that we thought could succeed him (Mugabe), we no longer have any confidence in them,” she said at the rally last week.

Mnangagwa did not respond to several requests for comment for this article.

The University of Zimbabwe’s Masunungure said the stage may have been set for Mnangagwa’s removal from office, little more than a year after Mujuru’s ejection. He said that would mean the two dominant factions that had vied to succeed Mugabe since 2000 would be purged from the party.

“The lesson for Mnangagwa is that you can quarrel, you can struggle among yourselves, as long as you do not commit the cardinal sin of wanting to take over while the president is still alive,” he added.

“I think that’s the red line for President Mugabe. Now the president is being told this guy has crossed that red line.”

(Editing by James Macharia and Pravin Char)