Mugabe's party plans for resounding poll victory

AP News
Posted: Dec 08, 2012 1:09 PM
Mugabe's party plans for resounding poll victory

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's long-time President Robert Mugabe said Saturday that his party is geared up for a "resounding" victory in elections scheduled next year.

Mugabe, addressing 5,000 loyalists at the end of his party's annual convention in the provincial city of Gweru on Saturday, said that his ZANU-PF party will fight like a "wounded animal to reclaim the government we lost" in 2008 elections.

Mugabe, 88, has been nominated as his party's presidential candidate. He has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980.

He is in a fractious four-year-old coalition with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that was brokered by regional leaders a year after violent and inconclusive elections.

The two-day convention was held in a $6.5 million conference hall that was constructed in less than three months by a Chinese firm for the party convention.

Mugabe said he was going to declare 2013, the "year of electoral victory that will redeem us from the coalition."

Mugabe warned his top officials to desist from infighting because it is "dangerous" and threatened unity. He said disunity and complacency had cost his party the previous vote.

"We were very divided and suicidally indifferent in 2008," Mugabe said. "We are now like a wounded animal, and you know how it fights."

Deep divisions in ZANU-PF have emerged over Mugabe's likely successor. Top party leaders, Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Joice Mujuru have been touted as possible candidates to lead the party in the event Mugabe retires or dies.

But Mugabe on Saturday told supporters it is awkward that top party officials were canvassing for top leadership positions in the party.

"In our time it was embarrassing for you to campaign for a post. Ambition causes divisions in the party," Mugabe said.

He said Mnangagwa and Mujuru must stop getting people to support them as individuals and instead must work at getting people to support the party.

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"Ensure people are united but not around you, you are there to lead them, the party doesn't belong to you," he said. That is dangerous, absolutely dangerous."

Mugabe also told his supporters that there was no need to engage in violence in the upcoming elections because "we have the strength of our policies" unlike his partners in the coalition, Tsvangirai 's Movement for Democratic Change party, as "clueless spooks sent to cause us grief."

Mugabe's often violent program to seize thousands of white-owned farms since 2000 disrupted the agriculture-based economy. He has also announced plans to force businesses and mines to hand over a 51 percent ownership to black Zimbabweans.

"We don't want violence. That is dirty and we are a clean party because we are intellectuals," Mugabe said.