News / Africa

Mugabe Turns 88, Vows to Stay in Power

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks during a visit to Mimosa Platinum mine about 400km (249 miles) south of the capital Harare, February 16, 2012.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks during a visit to Mimosa Platinum mine about 400km (249 miles) south of the capital Harare, February 16, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Delia Robertson

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has marked his 88th birthday with a series of interviews in which he insists he will call for elections this year.

However, analysts say it is unlikely he will defy regional leaders who insist that a new constitution, endorsed in a referendum, be in place before elections are held.

Mugabe told Zimbabwe state television that he will do whatever it takes to ensure that they are held.

"But definitely I will then exercise my presidential powers in accordance with the main constitution, the principal constitution of the country, and announce when the election will take place," he said. "And I will do this."

Photo Gallery - Robert Mugabe Through the Years

But in order to do this, Mugabe will have to withdraw from the 2008 Global Political Agreement, or GPA, which brought about the power-sharing government in his country. The agreement was backed by the Southern African Development Community, the SADC.

"We will tell SADC what the problem is, and SADC cannot compel us to continue on an exercise which is futile," he said. "And I am sure that there is greater wisdom on the part of SADC, and anyway the GPA states that a party can resign from it, reject it completely, and once a rejection takes [place], we revert then to our existing constitution. A constitution on which all these years we have based ourselves, and that becomes also the basis of an election."

Ibbo Mandaza, an author and a founder of SAPES Trust, a regional think tank, said rather than winning the support of the SADC and the African Union, Mugabe is likely to incur their wrath if he unilaterally calls for an election. Their patience with the aging leader, he said, is wearing thin.

"The SADC and the AU are getting increasingly impatient with Mugabe, and he should know that many feel he has overstayed," said Mandaza. "Many feel that this is mainly his problem that has led to the GPA, and that he of all people should not be seen to be in the way of a process towards the recovery of Zimbabwe."

The SADC appointed South African President Jacob Zuma as facilitator for the Zimbabwean transition. He has won SADC and AU support for a so-called Zimbabwe roadmap that requires full implementation of the 2008 political agreement, including adoption of a new constitution endorsed by Zimbabweans in a referendum.

Watch video of Mugabe, staff celebrating

The new constitution was supposed to be in place a year ago, but there have been many delays in the process, and a draft is only now expected within the next couple of months. Mandaza says that once that is done, there are further time-consuming processes that must be adhered to.

"Another three months before [the meeting of political parties, and civil society groups] is held, and if things go well, it will be maybe October-November before a referendum is held," he said. "And then three months thereafter, parliament accedes to the new constitution assuming the referendum is positive. So by any accounts, we are talking about 2013 at the earliest -- others will say 2014-2016."

Mandaza is referring to a view of some Zimbabweans that rather than elections, the current term of the unity government be extended beyond 2013, and that a new, more refined political agreement, at present called GPA-2, be put in place. The goal is to create a socially, politically and economically stable environment in which credible elections can be held.

The last elections in 2008 were so plagued by violence -- most of it perpetrated by Mugabe's supporters -- that observers declared the presidential vote a sham and pressured the president into the current inclusive government.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid