Robert Mugabe clamps down further in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is warily eyeing the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Some analysts say those are prompting him to speed up elections and intensify an intimidation campaign against the opposition.
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“Urban areas have been areas of concern to ZANU-PF,” says Mr. Zhangazha. “They are trying to measure their ability to destabilize the MDC well ahead of elections by targeting its leaders and activists.”Skip to next paragraph
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Other analysts said Mugabe has, since 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain, used violence against adversaries to maintain power. In the March 2008 elections, Mugabe used violence against MDC supporters, hoping to force Tsvangirai to back out of the vote. At least 200 MDC activists were killed by suspected ZANU-PF supporters and state security agents.
Zimbabwe’s unity government, which comprises Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai’s MDC, and a rival MDC faction headed by Arthur Mutambara, is facing total collapse because of deep disagreements within the coalition over political reform.
Under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed in September 2008 and implemented in February 2009, the three principals are supposed to hold consultations leading to a new constitution, which would then have to be approved by a referendum before new elections can take place.
But Mugabe this week threatened to dissolve parliament and call early elections, without waiting for a new draft constitution.
“I have the constitutional right to call an election on the basis of the old Constitution,” Mugabe said on Monday. “If the constitutional process is not wanted, I will have parliament dissolved and call elections.”
Such a hard line by Mugabe flies in the face of South African President Jacob Zuma, a facilitator in the Zimbabwe post-election crisis, who has been pressing the three principals to come up with and implement a roadmap ahead of elections.
African neighbors called to help
MDC spokesperson Chamisa says Mugabe wanted to ambush the MDC into a snap election.
“ZANU-PF has not abandoned guerrilla tactics,” he says. “We suspect he wants an election before our own congress. He [Mugabe] thinks he will catch us flat-footed. No, for us, if one eye closes, the other one is wide open.”
The MDC has expressed concern for the lack of action by the police as “innocent citizens” are harassed for belonging to a political party of their choice. Police are victimizing MDC activists even when they are victims of violence, MDC members say, while they protect ZANU-PF militia from prosecution.
“It is clear that the repeat of June 2008 in an amplified version is inevitable,” Chamisa said in a statement. He has called on the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, who are the guarantors of the Zimbabwe agreement, to take immediate action.
The Monitor's correspondent in Harare cannot be named for security reasons.