Zimbabwean leader calls mediator a ‘street woman’ at launch of Zanu-PF’s election campaign
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has launched a scathing verbal attack on President Jacob Zuma’s envoy, Lindiwe Zulu, calling her a “street woman”.
Zulu is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chief mediator in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe hurled the insult at her, not mentioning her by name, during the launch of the Zanu-PF election campaign in Harare on Friday. Zulu was not present.
Mugabe first slammed his main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who wanted Zimbabwe’s national elections – which are scheduled for July 31 – postponed by three months.
Speaking in English, the 89-year-old Mugabe said: “Did such a person (Tsvangirai) think that we, as a country, would take heed of this street woman’s stupid utterances?”
He also threatened to quit the SADC.
Zulu, who advises Zuma on international affairs, has openly called for the postponement of the polls.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Zulu refused to respond to Mugabe’s insult, saying it was “not about me”.
“The whole thing is about Zimbabweans getting Zimbabwe right.”
Then she added that, in her role as an official helping to facilitate Zimbabwe’s elections, she did deal with Mugabe, but his comments were “a public thing”. “It was just a misunderstanding really. Why does it become personal when it was an SADC decision?”
Last month, the Mozambican summit of the regional bloc called on Mugabe to petition Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court to postpone the elections because the country needed more time to prepare.
Zulu said “nobody protested the application to court”.
She said she didn’t know if the elections would be able to take place properly because there was so little time left.
“In the end, it depends on what the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has to say (about its preparedness for the elections).
“Time is short and we can’t run away from that, but if the court says elections must go ahead, it is not for us or the SADC to decide otherwise.”
Mugabe told 20?000 supporters at the rally: “You are our soldiers. You have a battle to fight. Go into the battle well-armed. It’s a fight for our lives. It’s a battle for survival.
“Go into the battle with the full knowledge that there is a political enemy. This is a do-or-die struggle.”
He also launched an attack on the 15-member regional bloc: “Let it be known that we are in the SADC voluntarily. If the SADC decides to do stupid things, let it be known that we can withdraw from the SADC.”
The elections could extend Mugabe’s 33-year rule by another five years.
Independent Zimbabwean political analyst and academic Ibbo Mandaza described Mugabe’s televised attack on Zulu as a sign that Mugabe sided with the “hawks” in Zanu-PF who wanted to defy the SADC.
Zuma was the actual target of the insult on Zulu, he said.
“He forgets the situation vis-à-vis South Africa and the world.
“This vain show of power and sovereignty at a time when you are most vulnerable is foolish,” said Mandaza.
– Additional reporting by Sapa-AFP