Mugabe ready to stand for re-election

2010-03-05 08:10

ZIMBABWE’S president Robert Mugabe said yesterday that he was prepared to stand for re-election if asked to do so by his ZANU-PF party.

“If ZANU-PF says yes, I will,” 86-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, told journalists in a rare press conference. Elections are due in two years.

Mugabe and his longtime rival Morgan Tsvangirai forged a national unity government a year ago under South African mediation, after a lengthy political crisis sparked by disputed elections.

“Elections will be a product of the constitution-making process,” he said.

Under the pact, which led to the formation of the unity government in February last year, the 2012 elections will only take place under a new constitution.

The drafting of the new constitution has been marred by disruptions by Mugabe’s supporters who are opposed to reforms.

The process was halted in January to allow more public participation.

“If the process successfully ends, there will be an election. If it fails, that too will lead to an election.”

Mugabe has been seen as a stumbling block in the power-sharing accord, with Tsvangirai in October boycotting government for three weeks, accusing Mugabe of being “dishonest and unreliable”.

The dispute was resolved by regional leaders at Tsvangirai’s request.

“On a weekly basis, we meet here and have tea and snacks together. No more doubts about each other’s honesty,” he said.

One of the main sources of mistrust between the two leaders has been the issue of targeted sanctions, imposed by Western nations and the European Union on Mugabe and his close allies.

Mugabe often accuses Tsvangirai of supporting the sanctions, which he says are undermining the new government.

The EU, the United States and Britain have extended the targeted sanctions for another year, citing lack of progress in the power-sharing government.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday told President Jacob Zuma, who is the mediator in the deal, that the sanctions will stay.

Zuma believes that the sanctions could be exploited politically by some in Harare.

“If the Zimbabwe issue is not moving forward, certainly some people could use sanctions as an excuse,” said Zuma in London.

He argued that some ministers were subject to travel bans and others not. “There is no equality in that kind of situation.”

Last month, Mugabe told state media that he would not pull out of the agreement, because of disagreement over the sanctions.

He said walking away would be “stupid”.

Zimbabwe, which has been battered by a decade of political turmoil, is in the process of rebuilding its economy and attract investors.

But a new regulation, which is forcing foreign firms to surrender the majority of their shares to locals, is bound to cause jitters among potential investors.

The law, which came into effect on Monday (March 1), gives companies 45 days to sell 51% of their stock, valued at more than US$500 000, to locals.

Mugabe has defended the regulation as meant to correct historical imbalances.

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