PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, who was yesterday endorsed as Zanu PF’s 2008 presidential candidate amid rumbling protests, appealed to party member
s not to sabotage his re-election bid and that of would-be legislators and councillors.
Addressing the ruling party’s extraordinary congress, Mugabe said those who lose primary elections for next year’s harmonised polls should rally behind the winners and campaign vigorously to secure his victory and that of Zanu PF.
“We want peace in the party, divisions must be minimum…Not everyone aspiring for a position will win,” Mugabe said. “Avo vacharuza musarudzo dzemuparty ngavasazorovera bhora mudondo… Unenge uchitozvinwisa (Those who lose primary polls, should not kick the ball into the bush . . . You will be scoring against your side.) In this game we should be scoring. Why in the first place did you agree to be part of the team? “
Mugabe’s plea came amid fears that some disgruntled party members would not campaign for him as they were allegedly arm-twisted by war veterans and the women’s and youth leagues to endorse his candidacy through solidarity marches.
Zanu PF is expected to hold its primary elections in January to elect candidates for the House of Assembly, Senate and council polls.
In his speech, Mugabe did not announce his party’s election manifesto or say how his government intended to resolve the economic crisis in the country — the biggest challenge to his re-election bid.
Instead, the 83-year-old leader as usual attacked former British premier Tony Blair, his successor Gordon Brown, and US President George Bush for allegedly interfering in the country’s internal problems.
He reiterated that the diplomatic dispute between Zimbabwe and Britain was a result of the refusal by Blair’s government to bankroll land reform in Zimbabwe in line with the 1979 Lancaster House agreement.
“We signed the agreement with the Conservative Party and when the Labour party later won the election to rule the UK, Blair reneged to finance land reform. We said to him keep your money and we will take our land,” Mugabe said.
He claimed that Blair and Brown wanted to dictate to Zimbabwe how to handle its affairs.
“They say ‘do this and that. If you do not follow, we will not speak to you’,” Mugabe said amid ululation from the delegates. “We do not desire to talk to them, but there is an issue between them and us. How do they expect the issue to be resolved (without talking to us)? That is the question.”
Mugabe said there was a systematic campaign by Britain and the West to isolate Zimbabwe in the region, in Africa and among the international community.