SW Radio Africa (London)

10 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Mugabe 'Upbeat' About Electoral Victory Following Gweru Conference

Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF are predicting a massive electoral victory in next year's presidential and parliamentary polls, following the party's 13th annual conference held in Gweru.

The conference, described by the state controlled media as a resounding success, left the party faithful upbeat about reclaiming lost ground to the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The very first ZANU PF congress, at its formation, was also held in the Midlands capital and Mugabe was the only surviving founding member to be at the just ended conference.

Apart from 5,000 party delegates the conference was attended by the country's top military junta. These were Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga, army commander General Phillip Sibanda, Air Force chief Air Marshal Perence Shiri, Prisons Commissioner retired General Paradzai Zimondi and CIO director-general, Happyton Bonyongwe.

Also in attendance was the chief of police, Augustine Chihuri. The MDC-T's finance minister, Tendai Biti, said service chiefs should not have been at this gathering.

Responding to this comment one media outlet quoted Chihuri as saying: "We are part and parcel of the revolution. We cannot be divorced from that revolution; those who are thinking of leading this country without respecting those who fought for it must stop dreaming."

In 2008 ZANU PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since Independence in 1980, but Mugabe told his supporters his party is poised to snatch its parliamentary majority back.

The party believes that its indigenization policy, which compels foreign companies to transfer 51percent of their ownership into the hands of locals, will resonate well with the electorate.

In fact during his address to delegates Mugabe said he wanted foreign firms operating in the country to become fully owned and controlled by Zimbabweans.

Other resolutions that came out of the conference included an increase in the jamming of private radio stations, such as SW Radio Africa.

ZANU PF's head of the Media, Science and Technology Committee, Olivia Muchena, urged the party to adopt technology to jam 'foreign based broadcasts' into Zimbabwe. It seems that she is unaware that they already have this technology, and regularly use it.

Economic analyst Bekithemba Mhlanga told SW Radio Africa that ZANU PF's policies had left average Zimbabweans much worse off.

'There is no prospect for economic growth where people want to reap where they did not sow. Zimbabweans will see through this whole thing about indigenization, that it is not a policy objective but a vote catching thing. This is just an electoral campaign tool especially now that Mugabe is pushing for 100 percent and not just 51 percent,' Mhlanga said.

Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme told us that what came out of the conference were self serving resolutions that will not be well received by the electorate.

He explained that voters in Zimbabwe were now more sophisticated than before and are more concerned about the state of the economy and can see through policies that enrich just a few individuals.

'They are confident that the people are going to reward them with their votes for dishing out the indigenization policy. This typifies the misplaced prioritization of things by ZANU PF. They want to grab things for themselves and not work on things that benefit the citizens of the country,' Saungweme said.

The Standard newspaper said the whole conference was lacking any atmosphere and that there was an air of 'uncertainty' among delegates. The paper said Mugabe's age has also finally caught up with him and he frequently had to lean on the podium and some times his speech was slurred.

He also showed he was a little behind the times - his lapel badge read: 'Vote for ZANU PF.............in 2005.'

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