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Zimbabwe Ruling Party Says Winning Controversial Presidential Vote is Crucial

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party says its priority is to win the presidential vote despite what the party describes as bickering by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). This comes after U. S President George Bush called on incumbent President Robert Mugabe to respect the decision of the people of Zimbabwe by accepting that he lost the March 29 elections. But partisans of the ruling party dismissed Bush’s message, calling him a colonialist in league with enemies of the country to force a regime change, a move they say jeopardizes the country’s sovereignty.

Herman Hanekom is a Zimbabwean political analyst based in South Africa. From the capital, Pretoria, he tells reporter Peter Clottey President Robert Mugabe is not ready to hand over power to the opposition peacefully.

“It’s a natural reaction of any political party during elections in any country. Every political party wants to win, but it is how? And that is where the question comes in as far as Zimbabwe is concerned,” Hanekom noted.

He said President Mugabe would not take President Bush’s advice to respect the results of the March 29 elections.

“I think Mugabe must probably have looked at his aides and had a good laugh at President George Bush. He is not going to take anything from Washington. He has no intention of losing the election, although indications are there that in two terms he may have, but signs of it are clearly that by hook or by crook, they are going to keep the power in Zimbabwe for as long as they possibly can,” he said.

Hanekom said the electoral commission has up to a year to release the rest of the March 29 election results, which could thwart the opposition victory.

“Now what is interesting here is that the election laws of Zimbabwe, do not have a specific time limit by which results would be released, and if the electoral commission cannot organize a second round of voting immediately, it has 12 months in which to do so. And I think that is the way developments are going at the moment. The victory of the MDC is definitely going to be sabotaged for 12 months, and Mugabe will keep on ruling illegitimately as it is,” Hanekom noted.

He denied western powers want to force a regime change, as is claimed by supporters of President Mugabe.

“Well, he (Mugabe) has been saying that long enough, so by now he must be believing that himself. I do not think the United States, and Britain and France and all democratic countries want to see Mugabe go. What they want to see is that the elections are free and fair and that the victor in the elections is the next government. But Mugabe has so destroyed Zimbabwe that it is advisable that he realizes his political welcome and it is time for him to make a graceful exit, but he does not seem to appreciate that honesty,” he said.

Hanekom said the opposition demand that Mugabe exit gracefully would not have any effect on how things are in the country.

“If you look at the degree and scope of violence by Mugabe and ZANU-PF and the security forces, the police which is nothing other than an extension of ZANU-PF, I cannot see that there would be a graceful exit at all. What I can see is that there would be a lot of violence, a lot of human rights violations in Zimbabwe before Mugabe gets out,” Hanekom pointed out.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council met Tuesday in its first session on Zimbabwe in a sign of growing international impatience with President Mugabe’s election standoff. Zimbabwe’s UN ambassador reportedly suggested that ZANU-PF and the main opposition MDC party need to come up with a power-sharing deal in a national unity government. But the opposition rejected his suggestion, claiming it won the March 29 presidential vote outright.