SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Mugabe's Sincerity Questioned After Call for Peace

During Thursday's celebrations to mark 33 years of Independence, President Robert Mugabe once again renewed calls for Zimbabweans to shun violence ahead of harmonized elections.

While it may not be the first time Mugabe has preached peace in the last 12 months, violence and intimidation has not entirely stopped, a signal he has not enforced it amongst his ranks.

Political analysts said the leader of the former ruling ZANU PF must show his 'sincerity' by reforming the security sector that has been responsible for most of the state sponsored violence.

US based analyst Dr Maxwell Shumba told SW Radio Africa that while Mugabe may be genuine in his calls for peace, the problem he faces is his lack of authority to stop his security chiefs from acting with impunity.

The MDC-T has persistently said Mugabe could prove his sincerity by asking the police not to be partisan and for the soldiers to stop attacking civilians and other political opponents.

The last election in 2008 led to widespread violence, in which some 500, mainly MDC-T supporters were killed and an estimated 500,000 forced from their homes.

At 89 years old, Mugabe still wants to stand as the ZANU PF presidential candidate and faces a stern challenge from the MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 28 years his junior.

Mugabe's military chiefs are accused of orchestrating some of the bloodiest violence after he lost the first round of elections in March 2008.

Already there are growing concerns ZANU PF is using the military to lay the groundwork for Mugabe's campaign for re-election in elections expected between now and October.

The military has been pivotal in Mugabe's continued stay in power, with army generals previously indicating that they would not salute anyone other than Mugabe.

SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said that because of SADC's 'hands-on' approach to the Zimbabwean crisis, the strategy to use violence might backfire against ZANU PF.

"President Jacob Zuma's facilitation team is constantly in Zimbabwe getting updates and checking on issues of intimidation and violence as well as working on ensuring the country holds free and fair elections," Muchemwa reported.

"While people may not discount the use of violence entirely it may not be as bad as five years ago, where the crackdown on MDC-T supporters helped turn the sway the tide in Mugabe's favour during a run-off election that Tsvangirai boycotted," Muchemwa added.

A commentator said with a new constitution in place, it might help if Mugabe was to also pledge to ensure a smooth transition and allow who ever wins the presidency to take over without any glitches.

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