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Robert Mugabe: Zimbabwe's Dictator for Life?

Getting rid of Mugabe
Who will rid Zimbabwe of its aged tyrant?
February 2nd 2007.
In more than a quarter of a century in power, Robert Mugabe has turned one of Africa's most promising countries into a basket case. As Peta Thornycroft reports today from Harare, inflation has reached such a pitch that a school teacher cannot afford the bus fare to and from work. The black middle class has fled – the Reserve Bank estimates that one million of them might be in Britain – and those Zimbabweans who remain are witnessing the disintegration of public services, from hospitals to water-treatment plants and power stations.
Yet Mr Mugabe remains in power, calculating that the privileges afforded the top echelons of the security forces and the ruling party, Zanu-PF, will not only keep him there until his term ends next year but, through a constitutional amendment, could extend his rule to 2010.
Over the past seven years of accelerating political oppression and economic decline, it has become clear that the deus ex machina will not come from abroad. Britain, the former metropolitan power, fears being accused of neo-colonialism. South Africa, which could apply powerful leverage, disguises its revolutionary sympathy with Mr Mugabe by proclaiming the (illusory) benefits of "quiet diplomacy". Saddest of all, the domestic opposition Movement for Democratic Change has been weakened by factional division.
If, then, the president is to be removed before 2010, it is more likely to be through a palace coup than foreign intervention or electoral defeat. The most obvious instigator is Emmerson Mnangagwa, a veteran guerrilla fighter and brutal former security minister who has fallen out with the president and opposes plans to extend his term beyond 2008. The catalyst for a coup would be his uniting disaffected elements of Zanu-PF and mid-ranking members of the security forces. Given Mr Mnangagwa's fearsome record, the result would hardly be sweetness and light.
But it would at least promise less crazy economic management than that offered by the octogenarian ogre who currently occupies State House.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe 2010 Plan in Tatters
Dumisani Muleya - Zimbabwe Independent (Harare) - February 9th 2007.

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's plan to extend his term of office which expires in March next year by another two years to 2010 is in tatters after the Zanu PF politburo failed to endorse it last week.
Resolutions in the politburo are carried by acclamation and the discord of the Goromonzi conference was manifest at last week's meeting, participants said. Consensus is important to avoid dissent in parliament when constitutional amendments are tabled to facilitate the plan.
Inside sources said this week the politburo, the ruling party's supreme decision-making body, baulked at approving the plan, which triggered an unprecedented internal revolt at the party's ill-fated conference in Goromonzi in December last year. This put Mugabe's plans in disarray.
As first reported by the Zimbabwe Independent in December, Mugabe wants to move from being executive president to a ceremonial head of state, elected by the current Zanu PF-dominated two houses of parliament in a joint sitting as an electoral college, after March 2008.
After this he would then appoint a prime minister from the majority party in parliament -- which is Zanu PF in this case -- to form and lead either a Zanu PF government or a government of national unity. The preferred position, in terms of the plan, is to appoint a government of national unity to rally round the new prime minister -- possibly Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono -- to work without partisan problems intruding

Mugabe, who probably wants to remain as the Zanu PF leader after its 2009 congress, would be a ceremonial head of state on paper while in practice continuing to govern as a de facto executive president. This is said to be part of his strategy to secure immunity from possible prosecution for his excesses in power.
Depending on events, Mugabe would leave in 2010, but party insiders say he has resolved to become life president. Last year Mugabe repeated his self-serving argument that he won't quit because his party would disintegrate.
Delegates to the Goromonzi watershed conference refused to endorse his 2010 election proposal which had purportedly been backed by eight Zanu PF provinces and the committee on the state of the party at the meeting.

Harare and Mashonaland East have up to now refused to support the plan.
Sensing an open rebellion over the conflict-ridden issue during the conference, the Zanu PF leadership took the safe way out. They suspended the process of making final resolutions, claiming there was no more time to do it. Party leaders then tried to mislead their supporters saying the delegates had upheld the election initiative, although they also admitted the plan had to be referred back to provinces.
Before last week's politburo, which was the party's first meeting in 2007 after the Goromonzi conference, Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira claimed the party was meeting to endorse resolutions of that conference. However, after that meeting he said the election harmonisation initiative had been referred back to provinces for further consultations, showing the politburo was still divided over it and had not made any headway.
This effectively means Zanu PF has now gone back to the drawing board to restart the unpopular process. Shamuyarira and Zanu PF national commissar Elliot Manyika are spearheading the campaign.
Their other brief is to re-organise the provinces to make them amenable to the 2010 plan. They however face continued resistance in Harare and Mashonaland East where senior party officials have refused to endorse Mugabe's extended tenure.
Sources said Manyika last year shocked members of the conference committee on the state of the party when he, as the committee chair, demanded they had to first pledge loyalty to Mugabe before debate on the issue. Committee members refused and told him to "stop being ridiculous", a source said.
After discussions, committee members said they supported the idea of the need to hold the elections simultaneously, but not necessarily in 2010. They asked why 2010 and not 2008 because they thought it was a Machiavellian way of trying to extend Mugabe's tenure, the sources said. After the politburo meeting last week, it was agreed that the party's central committee would meet next month to deal with the problematic issue again.
The politburo first approved the issue amid firm resistance in December. But the central committee nodded it through because it was supported mainly by the Women's League members who appeared choreographed in their statements. The central committee is likely to endorse it again in March. However, Zanu PF MPs are mobilising to block the plan in parliament where only 10 ruling party legislators -- already there in the form of Mashonaland East MPs -- need to vote with the opposition MDC to defeat it.
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