Zanu-PF conference gets started

2011-12-06 07:09

Bulawayo – Delegates have started to trickle in to attend what may be the last Zanu-PF conference attended by President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe is only expected to join the conference on Thursday, but registration and speeches by those lower down in the food chain are due to start today.

More than 3 000 delegates are expected at the conference, said former ambassador to South Africa and Zanu-PF national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo.

There were initial talks for the conference to become an elective one, but this plan was shelved in the light of heightened divisions in the party following the release of the WikiLeaks cables that rocked the Zanu-PF political establishment.

It was felt an election would do more harm than good, so the top leadership agreed to simply endorse Mugabe again as the presidential candidate for the elections to be held next year.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai welcomed this decision.

“I want to thank Zanu-PF for endorsing Mugabe as their presidential candidate for the elections next year. He can’t contest me, on that one, he is too old and I’m going to have a walkover in these elections,” Tsvangirai bragged at a public meeting in Plumtree.

The past year has been a tough one for Zimbabwe’s former liberation movement.

WikiLeaks laid bare the factions in the party, but it showed them to be united on one issue: Mugabe’s time is over.

According to WikiLeaks, Mugabe’s possible successors, including deputy president Joyce Mujuru, had clandestine meetings with US diplomats where Mugabe’s weaknesses were discussed.

Most crushingly for Mugabe was that they also discussed his prostate cancer. Mugabe even confided in Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai about his disappointment in his confidantes for breaching his trust by talking so openly to imperialist countries.

Although WikiLeaks will not be formally discussed, it is expected to be the elephant in the room when the conference takes place in the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds in Bulawayo.

Some delegates want to have those fingered by WikiLeaks disciplined, but those in charge realise disciplinary action will not benefit any camp.

Observers expect lots of bootlicking in the conference where Zanu-PF leaders will sing Mugabe’s praises, but the serious discussions will be about the controversial indigenisation programme, where foreign companies were forced to hand over half of their shareholding to locals.

Mining bosses had declared the indigenisation programme as a vote-buying scheme from Zanu-PF ahead of the elections.

Stephan Hayden, chief executive of Caledonia Mines, which owns the largest mines in Zimbabwe, said his company will only comply with the laws after the elections.

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