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June 25 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF is using the state-controlled Herald newspaper to “legitimize an attack on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,” according to the premier’s Movement for Democratic Change party.
Zanu-PF, whose full name is the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, is attempting to “eliminate” Tsvangirai or “remove him as a threat to their party,” MDC Organizing Secretary Nelson Chamisa said in a phone interview from Harare. The two parties are in government together under a power-sharing agreement brokered in 2009.
Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was quoted in today’s Herald as “warning” Tsvangirai to “leave Zimbabwe’s generals alone.” His comments came after Tsvangirai said June 21 that military and police leaders should quit their posts and enter politics as civilians.
“What these statements from Zanu loyalists” show “is that an element within Zanu-PF is trying to legitimize an attack on the prime minister, whether to eliminate him or remove him as a threat,” the MDC’s Chamisa said in the interview.
Calls to Zanu-PF’s headquarters and the defense ministry went unanswered.
Chamisa made his remarks two days after Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba said in the Herald that the army would do all it could to keep Mugabe, 87, in power. The president will only leave office if he “sees fit, or dies”, according to the report, the military’s most direct signal yet that it would refuse to accept any other leader.
Today’s paper quotes the Zanu-PF defence minister as saying the army has a constitutional mandate to protect Zimbabweans from both external and “internal threats.”
Mugabe’s party “is incorrect to refer to internal threats,” Chamisa said today. “The MDC is not a threat, it is the government and the biggest party in government,” he said.
The MDC has been criticizing Mugabe for using the military, police and intelligence services to brutalize and intimidate its supporters since 2000. Its claims have been backed by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and civil-liberties groups in Harare.
Mugabe is pushing for fresh elections this year in an attempt to end the power-sharing accord, which was brokered by the Southern African Development Community and left Zanu-PF in control of the security services while giving most of the economic ministries to the MDC.
The MDC has said that Zimbabwe shouldn’t hold elections until the security services have been reformed and a new constitution is in place.
--Editors: Paul Armstrong, Alastair Reed
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