Mugabe a “bad choice”

Zanu (PF) officials worried about age factor

Senior Zanu (PF) officials say President Robert Mugabe was a bad choice for the forthcoming poll, but there was no one who could muster enough courage to tell him to step down.


"There is simply no one to tell him that," said a senior Zanu (PF) central committee member, summing up the mood in the party over Mugabe's decision to seek re-election.

Senior Zanu (PF) officials and party stalwarts who spoke to this reporter were clearly worried about Mugabe's gamble.

Speaking strictly on condition of anonymity, they were under no illusions that Mugabe needed “nothing short of a miracle” to shrug off a fierce challenge from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC.

"It’s going to be one of the most difficult campaigns. People are saying enough is enough and it is quite clear to all of us that the writing is on the wall," the central committee member said. "It will take a miracle to win.”

He and others interviewed by The Zimbabwean predictably declined to be named for fear of a backlash. Party hawks were said to be "despondent”. A party

stalwart from Matabeleland said: "I know I might sound unpatriotic but the signs are there for all to see. It is too late for us to try any new tricks. Our empowerment card has been rubbished by Morgan to the investors and to our people."

Of concern to those spoken to was Mugabe's age. He turns 88 next February. They said he should have allowed a younger politician to stand to save the party from a humiliating defeat. But Mugabe has steadfastly rejected calls to anoint a successor, and the two horses racing to succeed him have been fingered as "sellouts" in classified US embassy cables revealed by the Wikileaks website.

One party stalwart from Midlands said: "The comparisons the people are making with Morgan doesn't augur well for the party at this crucial time in our country's history. In Tsvangirai, the electorate sees a younger, free person with young ideas. Even those who are against the foreign-funded MDC might be forced to vote for Tsvangirai because of the age factor. We might physically clobber the electorate but it will be futile," he said, referring to his party's campaign of violence after Mugabe's devastating electoral defeat in 2008.

The Bulawayo conference in December is largely expected to rubberstamp Mugabe's candidacy for the next poll Didymus Mutasa shouted "your paper writes negative stories about our party so write what you want" when we reached him for comment.

Tsvangirai told thousands of his supporters at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera on Sunday that the next poll was a "watershed election, like the 1980 election."

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