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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Says Party Factions May Cause More Damage


ZANU-PF leader officially opens his party's congress against backdrop of factionalism, which is threatening unity of the party

President Robert Mugabe, the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front officially opened his party's congress on Friday. The five-yearly event is being held against a backdrop of factionalism, which is threatening the unity of the party.

During his address President Robert Mugabe decried the factionalism that has flared up during the run-up to the congress.

"There are too many leaders now outside the scope of the leaders provided for in our constitution," he said.

The congress went public Friday after two days behind closed doors during which the party's politburo and the central committee met.

The party has been riddled with internal fighting over who should eventually succeed Mr. Mugabe, who has already been endorsed as the candidate in the next elections slated for 2013. Mr. Mugabe said the divisions cost his party the general election last year and could cause further damage.

"The party is fighting itself, is eating itself up and when you do that the MDC will say do much more," he said.

ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority to the Movement for Democratic Change. Mr. Mugabe also lost to the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential race. Tsvangirai however failed to win the required majority. He later pulled out of the run-off poll citing violence against his supporters. Mr. Mugabe and Tsvangirai later formed a power-sharing government in a bid to end a decade of political and economic turmoil.

ZANU-PF deputy publicity secretary Ephraim Masawi told VOA that there is no political infighting and the party is in the process of rejuvenating, adding that the issue of a successor to Mr. Mugabe is not on the agenda.

"We have done the nominations of the presidium and the presidium is President Robert Mugabe, first secretary Mai [Mrs.] Mujuru, vice president and second secretary, comrade John Nkomo the second vice president and second secretary, SK Moyo as national chairman and that's it so the issue of succession is not on the agenda." said Masawi.

Mr. Mugabe once again blamed the country's difficult economic situation on what he calls western-imposed sanctions. He said the MDC, now a partner in the national unity government, called for the sanctions. He said the party is refusing to call for an end to those sanctions to maintain pressure on ZANU-PF to give in on outstanding issues of the agreement that brought about the national unity government.

The congress continues with new members of both the central committee and politburo expected to be announced Saturday.