PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, fearing defeat in the forthcoming poll, has urged his wounded party to establish a “warlike leadership” to conduct a military-style campaign during the looming presidential election run-off.
The strategy – discussed at the Zanu PF politburo meeting on April 4 – is believed to be at the root of ongoing political violence largely attributed to Zanu PF activists and state agents. The opposition says at least 45 people have been killed in the current wave of violence rippling through the countryside. Police and government spokesmen have denied the death toll figures. President Mugabe has of late been condemning violence.
Documents to hand show that Mugabe told the politburo during a post-mortem of the March 29 elections Zanu PF must establish a warlike and military-style leadership to campaign for him at the run-off.
“He said the party must establish an almost military/warlike leadership which will deliver,” one document says.
“The president and first secretary said the party must mobilise massively to achieve a resounding victory in the run-off,” it says. “He said party members must understand this was a sink-or-swim election.”
Last Friday Mugabe said the elections were being held in “circumstances of an all-out war”.
Mugabe’s official campaign team includes his deputies Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru and party chair John Nkomo. It also has 18 senior officials who include Emmerson Mnangagwa, Patrick Chinamasa, Nicholas Goche, Didymus Mutasa, Elliot Manyika, Sydney Sekeramayi, Ignatius Chombo, Oppah Muchinguri, Vitalis Zvinavashe, David Karimanzira, Webster Shamu, Mike Nyambuya, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Olivia Muchena, Tendai Savanhu, Sithembiso Nyoni and Walter Mzembi.
There are sub-committees on mobilisation, security and intelligence, legal affairs, logistics, research and strategy, public relations, services, finance, and information and publicity.
Insiders say Mugabe’s loyalists believe coercion is justified because the party is defending a “revolution”.
Sources said a carrot-and-stick approach that includes coercion and inducements, such as food relief, would be used.
The documents say Mugabe said the party must prepare thoroughly for what he described as a “do-or-die encounter” at the run-off scheduled for June 27. They reveal Mugabe said this after meeting his Joint Operations Command (JOC) advisors before the April 4 politburo meeting.
JOC, which brings together state security service chiefs, meets Mugabe on Fridays to brief him on security issues.
Sources said senior army officers, including high-ranking generals, have been roped into the Mugabe campaign. The army, whose top commanders have openly opposed the MDC, has officially dissociated itself from the current campaign of violence, but human rights groups insist it is involved. A senior lawyer, Advocate Eric Matinenga, has already filed a High Court application seeking an order to remove the army from Buhera.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief General Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Prisons Commissioner retired Major-General Paradzayi Zimondi, Army Chief of Staff Major-General Martin Chedondo and Brigadier-General David Sigauke have said they would not accept opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai if he wins.
Chedondo hardened his stance on the opposition this week, attacking the MDC as “puppets” helping Western imperialists to launch an onslaught against the country.
The generals’ position is reportedly shared by Mnangagwa who is Mugabe’s chief strategist for the run-off.
Mnangagwa’s rivals in the camp led by retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru are opposed to current strategy, especially intimidation and violence against voters.
At the politburo meeting last week on Wednesday Mujuru and his wife Joice confronted Mugabe on the brutality against people in Mashonaland provinces.
They wanted to know why voters were being beaten in regions where Zanu PF had won the majority of the votes. No one in the politburo replied to their query. It is said the Mujurus are outraged by the violence that seems to be targeting people in their regions. Political violence is rife in Mashonaland regions where the Mujurus have their power base.
Besides the Mujuru faction, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono is also against the run-off – expected to cost US$60 million – but for a different reason. Gono argues the run-off would destroy the economy and heighten national polarisation.
He wrote a letter to Mugabe last month on the issue, suggesting the need for a negotiated political settlement.Â Â
Zanu PF’s campaign tactics – which are similar in some respects to their electioneering in 1980, 1985, 1990, 2000, 2002 and 2005 – have created a climate of fear and left people traumatised.Â Â Â Â
A South African team of retired army generals that arrived in the country on May 4 to investigate violence went back on Tuesday after discovering chilling evidence of brutality and impunity.
The violence alarmed South African President Thabo Mbeki who was in the country recently to talk to Mugabe about the issue.
Civic group Crisis Coalition said yesterday the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Youth Assembly secretary for security Tonderai Ndira, who was allegedly abducted by state security agents in Mabvuku on May 14, was found dead on a farm in Goromonzi on Wednesday. His brother Barnabas Ndira told Crisis Coalition Tonderai (32) was found dead and his decomposed body was taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital mortuary in Harare.
The MDC, civic groups and human rights organisations have accused Zanu PF and state security agents, including army, police and intelligence services, of unleashing violence in a bid to secure Mugabe’s re-election. The army has distanced itself from violence but the accusations persist.
Mugabe and government officials have denounced violence but their remarks are seen as designed to appease Mbeki, while camouflaging state brutality.
By Dumisani Muleya