Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe last week revealed how he survived a first round election defeat to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008 and the ridicule he suffered on the international stage because of his questionable legitimacy. Mugabe told war veterans in Harare that he decided to keep army, intelligence and police chiefs in their jobs despite that they had passed retirement age to help him recover from the embarrassing loss.
The securocrats have been fingered in the political violence that forced Tsvangirai to pull out of the run-off poll after several MDC-T supporters were killed or displaced. Mugabe said even after he won the controversial run-off, the international community ostracised him, with Botswana leading the charge. The 92-year-old ruler said the late Botswana vice-president Mompati Sebogodi Merafhe told him openly at an African Union (AU) meeting that he stole the victory from Tsvangirai. “Anyway we agreed [to the unity government] with the scolding from Tsvangirai and even at the AU, I was humiliated by the late Botswana Foreign Affairs minister Merafhe and other presidents that we had lost elections,” he said.
“Merafhe, he is late now, even went to the point of telling me that the seat I was in was supposed to be occupied by Tsvangirai. I could not do anything but just keep quiet praying time will pass”.
Tsvangirai had argued he had won the poll by over 74% and then MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti was charged with treason after announcing the opposition party would form a government. The charge was only rescinded during talks to form the government of national unity. Mugabe also publicly admitted for the first time that he had used the military to win the 2013 elections. “We then reorganised ourselves [after the 2008 loss] and the war veterans realised what had happened, we thank them for that,” he said.
“That is why I kept these men [pointing at army generals] in their positions even though they had long reached retirement age. We said we must fight this war first then we will see what happens later. The 2013 election was a war that we fought and you came right,” said Mugabe before asking Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga to “please stand up”. Mugabe blamed his electoral setback on the late army general Solomon Mujuru, Simba Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa. Makoni left Zanu PF on the eve of the 2008 elections to form Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, while Dabengwa revived Zapu. The two later joined hands in an attempt to push Mugabe out of power.
First published on: www.thestandard.co.zw