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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid