Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party is looking to replace the Zimbabwean President, despite unanimously re-electing him as first secretary of the party. After last year’s election in which the government was forced into a coalition with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, members of the party are blaming Mugabe for its declining public support.  Mugabe has historically pitted different factions within ZANU-PF against each other in order to keep hold of power and, along the way, has left the country of Zimbabwe in complete despair.

The BBC’s Southern Africa correspondent Karen Allen in Harare says much of the debate these past few days has focused on factionalism and claims that individual personalities are seeking to undermine the party for their own personal gain.

IOL reported a quote in which Mugabe stated, “The party is eating itself up. The more intense the internal fighting is, the greater opportunity we give to the opposition. We should be able to admit that the election produced a result that left a huge dent on the party.  We are responsible for the poor performance in the election last year.”


According to Al-Jazeera English many senior officers in the security forces fought in Zimbabwe’s war of independence and remain loyal to Mugabe and have vowed never to recognize Morgan Tsvangirai, prime minister and opposition head, as leader.

During a political rally in Harare on Saturday, Mugabe said the country’s unity government had a ‘short life span’ and asked for the support of the 10,000 delegates in attendance.

Still, political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, Eldred Masunungure said those predicting that Zanu-PF was mortally wounded were making a mistake: “People should confound wishful thinking with sober analysis. Zanu-PF went through tumultuous times 30 years ago.”

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President Robert Mugabe first rose to power  in the newly formed country of Zimbabwe in 1980 after helping the country gain independence from Britain.  Seven years later, he became president, a title he has since held.

Mugabe was frequently revered as a great leader when he first took office by the international community, a leader with a clear view of what he wanted for Zimbabwe.  In a 1974 interview a journalist questions the president on his hopes for Zimbabe.  He asked Mugabe if he ever saw free elections for the country, Mugabe replied,

“Yes, of course. Why not? We are fighting for democracy.  We would like to see a democratic state established in Zimbabwe. And this means a state based on the majority of the people.”



Fast forward more than 30 years to the 2008 presidential elections and the news reports tell a different story.

“ Overnight, they had been dragged from their homes and beaten by Mugabe supporters….



President Mugabe went on to lose the 2008 March presidential election to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change Party.  And a few months later, he ordered a run-off after refusing to step down from power.  Mugabe won, but amid accusations of election tampering.

Claims he denies in an interview with Al Jazeera English.

“No. If rigging the elections means winning the elections through majority voting, then, then let it be. That’s precisely, we will be winning, we will be winning all the time.”



Mugabe has since agreed to a unity government, appointing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai Prime Minister. The Zimbabwe government is now a joint coalition with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Party.  A relationship that seems anything but agreeable.

In a radio interview with UK’s The Guardian last August, Tsvangirai stated he and Mugabe were working together affaby.

“Journalist: You, you believe he does have capacity to change? Or has changed already?

MT: I don’t see any attitude of perpetuating hate or division, polarization of the country

Journalist: It must be hard for you sometimes, you must admit, to swallow what’s been going on in the past and sit down with someone being held responsible for a lot of violence against you personally and your supporters?

MT: what is reconciliation without that? Reconciliation is a major for tolerance across this very serious political divide that exists in this country and how we can stand up as leaders and call nationally unity when between us we don’t like each other?”


But, less than a month after the interview was published, Tsvangirai shared a rather different message at a rally for the MDC party as Africa Times News reported, stating Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party:

“…Continues to violate the law, persecute our members of parliament, spread the language of hate, invades our productive farms…ignores our international treaties.”


Africa Times News

Most recently, Tsvangirai has ordered all MDC ministers to stop working from government offices, an order  he too is following until all the political issues are resolved.

Other world leaders seem to agree with Tsvangirai’s hesitation to work with the president.

In 2002 sanctions were applied against President Mugabe when suspicion of election tampering surfaced along with human rights violations.

Those sanctions are still in place in 2009 and European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid says they will most likely stay.

“…the EU would not resume development aid until more was done to implement the nation’s power-sharing agreement and to restore human rights.”


Alternatively, socio-economic analyst Udo Froese told The Zimbabwe Times:

“[The international West] wanted from the onset a government of regime change not a government of national unity… Hillary Rodham Clinton, the US Secretary of State came to visit Africa on her Africa safari, she also visited South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma… and seemed to be leaning on him that he must lean on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to finalize the regime change otherwise sanctions would not be lifted….”


The Zimbabwe Times