Supporters of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s government have described as treasonous calls by main opposition leader for the veteran president to step down. Partisans of the ruling ZANU-PF party say the opposition is in league with enemies of the country to force a regime change, which they claim is in direct contravention to the constitution. This comes after factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reportedly joined forces to take over the lower house of parliament as a majority party after the disputed March 29 elections. Glen Mpani is a Zimbabwean political analyst with the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Mugabe’s days in office are numbered.
“I think the unity of the two MDC formations is long overdue. If you know, before the election, there was an attempt to unite the two MDC formations, and that attempt did not lead to anything positive. And I think for the two MDC formations to agree to unite, I think, one, it puts to rest the apparent division that ZANU-PF was trying to put across that they have a majority because the two MDC formations are divided. And I think it is now clear that there is one opposition. The MDC has a clear majority, and ZANU-PF is now officially in opposition in parliament,” Mpani pointed out.
He said the unity between the two MDC factions gives Zimbabwe citizens hope for the future.
“I think what the unity does is that it boosts the confidence of the men and women in Zimbabwe, who are being battered, and the leadership is responding and taking up a more proactive and responsible leadership by coming together and trying to come up with a common front against the illegitimate government in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mpani described as preposterous treason calls by partisans of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
“I think those accusations are quite misplaced. First and foremost to the government that is there in Zimbabwe right now, Mugabe is running that government illegally. And the cabinet that he has put in place is not constitutional based on the fact that they lost in an election. They have not announced the result of the election, and for them to claim that Morgan Tsvangirai is tantamount to treason, I think, is out of order,” Mpani noted.
He said the leader of the opposition is right to call for the president to step down.
“What Morgan Tsvangirai is saying based on what we are hearing from him is simply that the president of Zimbabwe should, one, allow the results to be released, and secondly, to have ways for whoever is elected as that serve as the president of Zimbabwe. And the results that were posted outside show very well that Morgan Tsvangirai won the elections. And what they are simply asking for is for him to be given the task to take over,” he said.
Mpani said staunch supporters of President Mugabe fear for their political lives should the incumbent hand over power.
“What we should understand is that Mugabe is now a prisoner of the highest office of the land. And he is being held under siege by his generals, by people who know that in the event that he leaves, it is very likely that they are going to be prosecuted for the crimes that they committed during their time that they were in office. The easy option for Mugabe is to concede defeat and get into a negotiating process where there can be an agreement on the framework of an honorable exit for him,” Mpani noted.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission says it has finished with the partial recount of the votes and is waiting for the opposition to verify results before publishing them, possibly today. But the main opposition MDC declines to participate in the verification, calling it illegal.