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.
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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid