Mugabe stirs up hatred against few remaining whitesZanu politburo dissent could lead to embarrassing

Robert Mugabe's decision to allow his die-hard lieutenants into Zanu (PF)'s supreme decision-making group - the politburo - to dictate a presidential election re-run could be brewing an embarrassing defeat for him, it was revealed this week.

Some officials within the politburo, war veterans and the military are reported to have secretly vowed to campaign against Mugabe, whom they say was not their choice for the presidential election in the first place.

The same officials, led by retired Army General Solomon Mujuru, who are said to have tried to block Mugabe from being chosen to stand on the March 29 poll, have tried in vain to him into conceding defeat to Tsvangirai in the poliburo meeting. That endeavour, though, was shot down by serving security chiefs and other pro-Mugabe stalwarts, who feared that they might lose their assets if Mugabe were to go.

The politburo, which met for a record eight hours last Friday, eventually resolved that the 84-year-old Mugabe, whose populist policies and intolerance for opposing views in the past 28 years have been blamed for both the country’s economic slump and the volatile political situation, should contest a second round of voting against Tsvangirai.

The Zimbabwean this week learnt from inside sources that members opposed to Mugabe, who include both newly-elected Zanu (F) MPs, have vowed to oppose their leader in the event of a run-off.

According to the sources, cracks within the party, which emerged after war veterans, led by their national chairman Jabulani Sibanda intimidated delegates to the party’s December special congress, seriously widened after the polls.

The anti-Mugabe clique is said to comprise very influential people within the party, who could have the power to see Mugabe losing embarrassingly to Tsvangirai. Mugabe himself, said to be under pressure to resign from his family, is said to be aware of these possibilities and was still considering his chances at the time of going to print.

“It is not yet clear what the new strategy by pro-Mugabe forces will be, but the President does not trust these himself,” added the source.

Intelligence sources have also warned that Mugabe would not stand a chance against Tsvangirai in the run-off, saying that the people of Zimbabwe were now more determined to get rid of him.

“People have seen that President Mugabe can be shaken and would want to finish him off. Maybe he would stand a chance if the re-run was held a year or so from now. As it is people are agitated with the election results and are eager to vote resoundingly against the President. The best option for him is to just step down. Even junior members of the security forces now openly complain that he is responsible for their suffering and want him to go. Any attempts by their commanders to unleash them on the people as happened in 2000 will have no bearing this time,” said an intelligence source.

Meanwhile, war veterans in Bulawayo also proved to be divided about the re-run, when they criticized their leader, Jabulani Sibanda, for declaring last week that the former freedom fighters would return to the bush if the MDC continued to provoke them by claiming victory in the polls.

“Only him and a few of his fellow top men are gaining from Mugabe’s failed rule. He is not talking on our behalf when he says that ‘we will go back to the bus”. I doubt if he ever fought the war he is talking about because for some of us who truly fought it, silokhe sidiniwe (we are still tired) even today and will not fight for Mugabe. Jabulani is crazy. He should just be Mugabe’s bodyguard if he wants to continue being used,” fumed a war veteran in Bulawayo on Monday.

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