Mugabe: Rivals scared of sure defeat
17 June 2013, 07:32
Harare - President Robert Mugabe accused political rivals of seeking
to delay elections in Zimbabwe because they fear defeat, after
regional leaders urged his ruling coalition to ask the courts to extend
a 31 July deadline for holding the vote.
His rivals said reforms
to restrictive media and security laws were essential for any fair
election to be held and that it was Mugabe's party that was not ready
to go the polls.
Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader at 89, last week
used a presidential decree to bypass parliament and fast-track changes
to election laws and declare the voting date, drawing a sharp rebuke
from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
In a clear sign that
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party would not give ground on reforms, Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa denied any need for either media or security
reforms demanded by the MDC party of Tsvangirai, the president's
Tsvangirai has previously said Mugabe should approach
the courts to extend the election deadline. Mugabe told the Sunday
Mail the government would do so through the justice minister but
accused his opponents of running scared of elections.
parties do not want elections, they are afraid of elections. They know
they are going to lose and it's a sure case that they are going to
lose," Mugabe told the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper. His
spokesperson was not available for comment.
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary general, countered that it was ZANU-PF
that was not ready for elections as factional fighting over who should
succeed Mugabe preoccupies the party.
Biti said he expected
parliament to change restrictive media and security laws and for the
military to sign a code of conduct pledging not to interfere with the
"We will attend to those amendments of the
media, security and reform the security sector. This is the hard
message coming from SADC and Chinamasa must stop misleading people," he
Leaders of the 15-nation Southern African Development
Community (SADC) who met in Mozambique on Saturday fear that a hurried
election in Zimbabwe would increase the chances of a disputed result
Chinamasa said he would approach the Constitutional
Court seeking an extension to the 31 July deadline, but that the court
could just as well refuse that request. The country would then go to
the polls under the current conditions, he said.
"As ZANU-PF, we
are contesting the idea that there is any need for reforms, whether its
media reforms. We made it clear in the summit [in Mozambique],"
Chinamasa told the Sunday Mail.
In 2008 hundreds of Zimbabweans,
mostly Tsvangirai's supporters, were beaten and killed in the run-up to
elections by war veterans, soldiers and other backers of Mugabe,
creating a flood of refugees into neighbouring countries.
Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980.
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