HARARE – President Robert Mugabe reportedly told Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at their Monday meeting not to worry about coup threats from his Zanu PF officials and hardliners.
Addressing the New Zimbabwe Lecture Series organised by his MDC party on Thursday evening at a Harare hotel, Tsvangirai said he raised the issue of “coup” threats with Mugabe who simply told him not to worry about the comments, the latest one which was made by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Mugabe’s comments suggest he will be willing to surrender power if he loses the forthcoming watershed vote, his toughest election battle in 32 years.
Tsvangirai took the issue to Mugabe after Chinamasa told BBC’s southern Africa correspondent Andrew Harding that a win by the MDC leader in the forthcoming elections will be unacceptable to the military.
“I raised this with President Robert Mugabe and I asked him, kangozi kaya ke Zanu kauya ka? Zvikanzi, ‘ah, vamwe vanhu vanongotaura zvisina nemusoro wese.’ Ndikati, ‘ah, this time hakusikungotaura chete. (That avenging spirit in Zanu PF seems to have returned, Mr President. And he said this is just political rhetoric.
And I replied it seems this is not empty talk), this is a calculated threat by a coward because that’s what cowards do,” said Tsvangirai while urging his supporters not to be cowed by the coup threats which were also repeated by Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo.
The Zanu PF spokesperson told South Africa TV station eNCA that it will be difficult for “our guys” to accept a Tsvangirai win. He was referring to the army.
Tsvangirai said though he is taking these threats seriously, this reflected a Zanu PF terrified of electoral defeat.
“The signs are that our colleagues are already afraid of a free and fair election,” Tsvangirai said.
“They know that the people’s verdict will be with the MDC. They are aware that the people of this country want a break from the past, that they want a new democratic culture and a new Zimbabwe,” he said.
“How does one explain the fears of one Patrick Chinamasa, a minister of Justice, a negotiator and a lawyer who should be a stickler to constitutionalism and the rule of law? Why should he tell the world that there will be a coup if Tsvangirai wins the next election?”
Tsvangirai said statements by Chinamasa and Gumbo were treasonous.
In the past, members of the security sector have also openly declared that they will not accept a Tsvangirai presidency.
Describing the next election as his last chance at the presidency, Tsvangirai urged his supporters to mobilise Zimbabweans to participate in the elections and not be intimidated by the coup threats.
“The question of apathy as a result of these threats, I don’t think it applies, it may intimidate one or two but let’s all go and mobilise people because this is our last chance,” he said.
“This is our watershed test as a nation to achieve change. I am sure what is important for the people of Zimbabwe is to remove fear, I am sure they will come out and make their choice.”
In addition, he had a word for Chinamasa and Gumbo.
“There will be bloodbath, bloodbath to who? Who is dying? Let’s put you at the forefront, Rugare Gumbo and Chinamasa, you die first. Who are you trying to sacrifice, someone’s child?” Tsvangirai questioned.
“President (Jakaya) Kikwete (of Tanzania) once told me that you hear someone saying we are prepared to shed blood but whose blood, someone else’s child’s blood, we will die until the last man but only when you reach him when he says, ‘oh, lets negotiate.’
How can any right thinking national leader propagate for a bloodbath.”