Mugabe's party ready to bury 'western NGO, the MDC'

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s party was on Saturday set to back his push for elections in the country early next year as supporters pledged to “bury forever” his “Western” backed political rivals.

Delegates from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF movement were meeting behind closed doors on the last day of its annual conference in the eastern city of Mutare where the veteran president is due to address delegates at 7:00 pm (1700 GMT).

“Zanu-PF is on an unstoppable roll,” said Simon Moyo, the party’s national chairperson, ahead of the speech where Mugabe is expected to be re-endorsed as its candidate for national polls in 2011.

“I would like to urge this conference to build on that momentum as we go towards the next general election scheduled for next year.”

Moyo also hit out at the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who for almost two years has shared power with long-time foe Mugabe after an inconclusive presidential election in 2008.

“We want to bury, once and for all, this Western project called the MDC,” Moyo said. “We must bury forever this combined British and American non-governmental organisation. For that is what the MDC is,” he added.

The coalition has been on the brink of collapse for months with Mugabe and Tsvangirai at loggerheads over how to handle the country’s massive debt and food shortages, and internal haggling over who gets key jobs.

Power sharing must end
On Friday, Mugabe told more than 4 000 delegates attending the conference that the power-sharing agreement between Zanu-PF and the MDC was not working and it must end.

He also threatened to nationalise British and American companies operating in Zimbabwe if the international community failed to drop restrictions placed on him and his inner circle.

The Zimbabwe leader wants presidential and Parliamentary polls on the same day next year, but the MDC has said key reforms must be put in place first to ensure a free and fair vote.

Rights groups say hundreds of political activists were killed during the last presidential election in 2008. The MDC has said fair elections are not possible until 2012 at the earliest and possibly as late as 2013.

However, Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of pro-democracy group the National Constitutional Assembly of Zimbabwe, told Agence France-Presse that the MDC’s concerns would be ignored. “Zanu-PF will push for those elections no matter what,” he said.

In March 2008, Tsvangirai won the presidential election defeating Mugabe, but he fell short of the required majority resulting in a run-off ballot months later which the MDC leader refused to take part in and Mugabe won unopposed.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed the compromise administration in February the following year.—Sapa-AFP



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