America can go to hell, says Zanu PF

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF has dismissed calls by the United States (US) to allow international observers to monitor the forthcoming harmonised elections, saying the superpower “can go to hell”.

As Washington called on the southern African nation to open its doors to foreign observers on Friday, party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa scoffed at the remarks yesterday.

“They should allow us to travel all over the world. If they are imposing sanctions on us economically why should we allow them to come here? What do they want when they are punishing us? They can go to hell,” he said.

This comes after US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki had said: “The United States sincerely hopes Zimbabwe will hold peaceful, credible presidential and parliamentary elections this year. We believe the credibility of these elections would be enhanced if a broad range of international monitors led by Sadc were accredited to observe,” she said, adding “this would help to verify that the elections are truly representative of the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

Despite a thaw in relations between Harare and the West, a development that has seen top diplomats from America and the European Union (EU) come into the country on a re-engagement exercise, Mugabe’s government is seemingly reluctant to return the favour.

Zimbabwe is being ruled by a coalition that was formed in 2009 at the behest of Sadc after an inconclusive poll in 2008 that was derailed by State-sanctioned violence.

Principals in the coalition government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe are divided over the issue of inviting foreign observers.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, is adamant that Western countries that include the US will not be allowed to observe the watershed elections that should be held, according to a Constitutional Court ruling, before July 31.

On the other hand Tsvangirai, whom Mugabe’s party brands a front of Western powers, say observers should come from any part of the globe.

However, it is Mugabe who appears to have the upper hand having blocked Western nations from observing the constitutional referendum that was held in March.

On Friday the US said Zimbabwe should allow outside observers led by a regional consortium of African nations to monitor elections to ensure the vote is peaceful and credible.

The 15-member Sadc grouping is looking at ways of helping Zimbabwe raise an estimated $132 million needed for an election and a summit that was supposed to discuss the matter was postponed indefinitely.

The summit that was planned for Maputo, Mozambique was called off reportedly after President Robert Mugabe said he would not be able to attend.

The regional group wants to avoid a rerun of a disputed poll five years ago, which sparked violence and prompted a flood of refugees into neighbouring countries.

Although there is no formal opinion poll, surveys in the last year by Freedom House, a US political think tank, and African research group Afro-Barometer have given Mugabe a narrow lead over MDC-T leader and current Prime Minister Tsvangirai.

Finance minister said on May 28, uncertainty over the election was pushing the country’s fragile economy closer to recession.

A repeat of the 2008 election violence could end Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.

On Friday, the International Monetary Fund said it was willing to negotiate an economic monitoring programme with Zimbabwe, the first step in a process that could see the country fully restore relations with the global lender and donors.

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