President Robert Mugabe has scoffed at anti-government protestors who unprecedentedly took to the streets in recent months while he also mocked calls for electoral reforms.
Speaking at Zanu PF’s central committee meeting at the party’s headquarters in Harare Wednesday, the frail-looking 92-year-old leader savaged opposition parties, accusing them of working tirelessly to foment civil unrest in the country.
Mugabe’s opponents have become emboldened by escalating citizens’ anger and protests over an unprecedented economic collapse, a worsening liquidity crunch and grinding poverty.
“We also realise that the country and growth that we so need can only take place in an environment of peace and unity,” Mugabe said.
“Such peace and unity should not only exist in the party, but should in fact embrace everyone in Zimbabwe. In the absence of peace and unity, economic recovery will remain an unattainable dream, a pie in the sky,” he said.
“Yet in the course of last year, we witnessed a number of desperate actions by our detractors as they, in vain, tried to foment unrest in the country. The opposition forces tried to create mayhem through wildcat demonstrations which started at the introduction of Statutory Instrument (SI) 64,” Mugabe said, adding that “they later moved to strange demands for electoral reforms, and then the introduction of bond notes”.
Opposition parties — through the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) — want the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to implement a biometric voters’ roll, clean the voters’ roll and be run by independent officers who are not appointed at the behest of Mugabe.
This comes as United Nations Development Programme yesterday invited bids for procurement of biometric registration kits as the first step towards eliminating vote fraud.
Opposition parties accuse Zec of being sympathetic to Zanu PF, an accusation it denies.
In 2008, Zec was accused of massive ballot manipulation after it failed to release the presidential results for five weeks after Mugabe lost to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who however, failed to garner enough votes to oust the nonagenarian leader.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said if Zec fulfils the opposition’s electoral demands, Mugabe will be history after 2018 elections, hence his spirited remonstrations against reforms.
“There’s absolutely nothing strange in us demanding that electoral reforms be implemented to enable the holding of free and fair elections,” Gutu said.
“We are not talking about rocket science when we talk about the need for electoral reforms to be put in place. We are talking simple and straightforward logic that any democrat anywhere in the world would easily understand. The main challenge is that throughout his political career, Mugabe has never understood the concept of democracy,” he said.
“His political DNA is the very antithesis of democracy. We will keep pushing for electoral reforms and whether Mugabe likes it or not, there will be electoral reforms in time for the 2018 elections. In the event that Mugabe decides to run for the office of president in 2018, he will suffer a thorough and humiliating electoral defeat.”