Mugabe's ghost hangs over polls

HARARE - The jury is out as to whether and to what extent the surprising move by former president Robert Mugabe to hold a media conference in Harare yesterday where he rubbished his successor while affirming opposition leader Nelson Chamisa will impact voting patterns in today’s crunch national polls.

Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, accuses his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa and his military backers of usurping power unconstitutionally and violating the rights of ordinary citizens since they took power.

“I can’t vote for Zanu PF. I can’t vote for a party or those in power who have brought me to this state. So it’s the MDC, Mai Mujuru, Khupe and 22 others. I have said the two women don’t seem to offer very much, so what is there? I think it is just Chamisa.

“Do they (Khupe and Mujuru) have any chance? I have not seen any rallies by them. I wouldn’t vote for either of the two women because they do not seem to have much,” said Mugabe during a press conference held at his home in the posh Harare suburb of Borrowdale yesterday.

Despite claims that Mugabe and Chamisa have met, the former president claimed no such meeting ever took place.

“I have not met Chamisa unless it’s Tsvangirai; we were together in the GNU (government of national unity). I have not met him (Chamisa); I wish to meet him if he wins.

“I worked with Mai Mujuru, I worked with Khupe. There is Chamisa; I have not worked with him but I have seen him work with the late (Morgan) Tsvangirai and he seems to be doing well,” said the former president, adding that voting for Mnangagwa would be tantamount to continuing military rule.

“Our neighbours are fooled into believing that it was not a coup d’etat. Nonsense, it was a coup d’etat.

“I hope the voting which will be done tomorrow (today) will reform, will thrash away military form of government and bring us back to constitutionality. We must have a democratic constitution; that is what we fought for.

“We used to say politics directs the gun but now it is the gun directing politics. No! I say no, no, no…let the people say never again should the army be used to thrust one man into power

“Let tomorrow decide; there should be a big no to guns directing politics. We shall never again experience a time when an army is used in politics,” said Mugabe.

Even though the former Zanu PF supremo is backing Chamisa, he wants the results of the elections to be respected regardless of the winner.

“Let the people go and vote freely and I’m glad. Even ED has said people will be allowed to vote freely and the result will be recognised, fine we appreciate that

“Congratulations to whichever party wins and let us accept that verdict; let us pray that tomorrow brings us good news, good news to everyone is that we get our freedom back,” he said.

Meanwhile, analysts said Mugabe’s public declaration yesterday that he would vote for the opposition today, and that he can’t vote for his tormentor Mnangagwa, appears primarily opportunistic, driven by a deep bitterness against those who pushed him from office last year.

Piers Pigou, senior consultant at the International Crisis Group, said Mugabe’s victim narrative and defence of constitutionalism were hollow in the face of what he had been responsible for in the past.

“His apparent endorsement of Chamisa may well assist the MDC Alliance in its presidential vote as Mugabe promotes a bhora musango.

This echoes with recent reports that ED is under intense pressure in the Mashonaland provinces for example,” Pigou said, adding the Afrobarometer poll also reflects Mugabe retains some support but whether that will translate into votes against Zanu PF and or Mnangagwa’s presidential bid is moot.

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