News and Information
Mugabe urges ruling party unity
|December 2, 2004
| Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has called for unity in his ruling party amid deep splits and jostling over the succession of power.
Though Mr Mugabe did not mention seven officials purged this week by his Zanu-PF party, he accused critics of "wanting to sing a discordant note".
He also lashed out at the UK, saying Prime Minister Tony Blair was meddling in Zimbabwean politics.
Mr Mugabe's address opened debate at the Zanu-PF congress in Harare.
Speaking before 9,000 delegates from across the troubled African nation, the 81-year-old leader insisted his party was ready to fight opponents from home and abroad.
We must remain solidly united and always vigilant
"We are meeting as a united people who believe in themselves," Mr Mugabe said during a 90-minute address.
"Let's not rest on our laurels. The enemy will not stop his imperialist manoeuvres and so we must remain solidly united and always vigilant so we can resist him."
The comments follow the suspension on Tuesday of seven provincial party leaders for, according to state media, opposing President Mugabe's choice of a new vice-president.
Controversial Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was also severely reprimanded for campaigning against the nomination of Joyce Mujuru as vice-president
The leader of the militant war veterans association was also disciplined.
Correspondents say the splits result from a row over Mr Mugabe's possible heir.
The Zanu-PF convention ends on Saturday and will decide Mr Mugabe's new vice-president.
Parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had been seen as Mr Mugabe's choice to replace him when he eventually steps down, had coveted the post.
The Zanu-PF provincial chairmen and Mr Moyo had attended a meeting held to discuss how to block Mrs Mujuru's nomination in favour of Mr Mnangagwa.
Mr Mugabe reportedly now favours Mrs Mujuru, currently Water Resources Minister.
Her husband, retired General Solomon Mujuru, is seen as a kingmaker within Zanu-PF.
Should Mrs Mujuru win the post, she will be the country's first female vice-president and will also become a possible contender to succeed Mr Mugabe.
Though Mr Mugabe has shown no signs of stepping aside, he is not thought likely to stand for re-election when his current term of office expires in 2008.
'Dream of regime change'
Zimbabwe faces key parliamentary elections next year, which will likely pit the Zanu-PF against the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
In his address, Mr Mugabe condemned the MDC as stooges of former colonial rulers Britain.
But he reserved his harshest criticism for the UK government, saying Mr Blair was a liar who had interfered in Zimbabwe's politics.
Mr Mugabe portrayed the West, in general, as demonic and decadent - comments that brought laughter and applause from thousands of delegates.
"The message of unity carried out through the trenches of the liberation struggle reassured us in the trying early years of our independence, and has continued to energise us even as our external and internal enemies have been vigorously seeking their dream of regime change in our country," he said.
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