Saturday, December 13, 2008

Zimbabwe is prepared to defend itself – Mugabe

Zimbabwe is prepared to defend itself – Mugabe
Written by Kingsley Kaswende, Chibaula Silwamba, Mutuna Chanda and Fridah Zinyama
Saturday, December 13, 2008 4:02:50 AM

ZIMBABWE is prepared to defend itself against any military aggressor, President Robert Mugabe has declared. And South Africa's governing party, the African National Congress (ANC) has said President Mugabe must resign and go.

Addressing mourners at the burial of a party stalwart Elliot Manyika at the National Heroes' Acre on Thursday, President Mugabe told off Britain and the United States for calling for an invasion of Zimbabwe.

There have been calls by US President George W. Bush, French president Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for a military invasion of Zimbabwe as a result of the cholera outbreak that has been blamed on the state's failure.

He said these calls were unjustified because Zimbabwe was not a threat to international peace and security and that it required doctors, not invading armies, to help the fight against cholera. ''We are not a threat to international peace, not a threat to our region...because of cholera, Mr Brown wants military intervention, Sarkozy wants military intervention, Bush wants military intervention because of cholera . . . We need doctors, if there is cholera, we do not need soldiers from outside, we have enough of our own. So Mr Brown, your thinking must undergo some medical correction," he said, in a speech that was also broadcast live on national television.

"This country was liberated through war. We are prepared…the British are saying things are not well in Zimbabwe...for leaders like that to be guilty of deliberate lies in order to commit acts of aggression. Acts of aggression for a purpose to suck the fuel of Iraq, with regards to Iraq, and in our case in order for them to share, without our consent, to share our wealth with us. We don't want that."

President Mugabe said Zimbabwe was under attack from the same forces it fought during the liberation struggle.

“They want to find excuses for re-colonising us. Why don't they just say you Zimbabweans are sitting on rich resources? You can't have those without us; we want to share with you. Whether you like it or not we also want to come. That would be much more honest,'' he said. “We are a tiny country, a demographically small nation, yet we find ourselves on white lips that do not bear our colour or language, lips of governments and regimes with a cruel history of colonial occupation and oppression, of impression, dominance and blatant dehumanisation of our people. These lips do speak against SADC and Africa. They are greedy, voracious and aggressive."

President Mugabe said Zimbabwe would have elections if the situation becomes desirable but people should solve differences with the knowledge that there were ideals of the revolution that should be upheld.

And speaking at ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa when he and other ANC officials met international delegates attending the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL)'s conference, Ebrahim said Zimbabwe was a tragic case.

"I know that the official view of the ANC is that we will support the view that is coming up internationally that Mugabe must resign and must go!” said Ebrahim, a freedom fighter and former Robin Island prisoner during South Africa's independence struggle against apartheid. "Zimbabwe is a tragic case; we issued a very strong statement yesterday. There is a human rights activist who has disappeared, that is not the only one."

He has however warned against military intervention in Zimbabwe, saying whoever would do that might be caught up in a serious battle.

"I don't think that we could support any military intervention because Zimbabwe is still an independent sovereign state and I must say that Zimbabwean army is very well trained and experienced," Ebrahim advised.

He challenged the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to put more pressure on President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

"What could be done in Zimbabwe personally I don't really know. It seems that Mugabe is becoming more and more desperate now. Much would be left on the Zimbabwean people themselves. If it were in South Africa with such situation in Zimbabwe, that government would not last," Ebrahim said. "In the 80s, we managed to mobilise [people] to such an extent that South Africa became ungovernable and we were able to defy the apartheid government that is what made the government change its policies and its values."

He said in any situation where the masses were protesting against the incumbent government, the state uses the police to suppress the people.

"In any situation, the government would use the police and people lose fear for the police, then they bring in the army and when the masses lose fear of the army and then you have typical revolutionary situation in the country…whether Zimbabwe is reaching that I don't know," Ebrahim said. "SADC and the AU should continue putting pressure and try to get a resolution on the problem. There has to be international condemnation and pressure; you can't have economic sanctions because the country is collapsing.”

On the cholera situation in Zimbabwe that has now spread to South Africa, Ebrahim said the epidemic was a serious problem although the Zimbabwean government in the recent past dismissed it as a minor problem.

"They [Zimbabwe government] were telling us a few weeks ago that 'no it's not a problem…it's the media that are blowing the situation out of proportion'. But now they have accepted. It is affecting all the neighbouring countries including South Africa," Ebrahim said.

And Ebrahim has said the global financial crisis is as a result of capitalism and will cause political implications.

He said the crisis would greatly affect developing countries, especially those in Africa.

Ebrahim, however, observed that South Africa had not yet been greatly affected by the financial crisis.

"We in this country are not affected as badly because we already had regulations on the financial markets," Ebrahim said. "[But] there is a decline in the commodity prices and because of the recession in the [world] economy, it is affecting our economy. Already, I think there were 75,000 people who have been retrenched in addition to the already high level of unemployment."

Meanwhile, Ebrahim has predicted that next year's presidential elections in South Africa would be competitive.

"Of course, we are confident of winning the next elections as the African National Congress which is an alliance with the SACP and COSATU but it will be an interesting election; we will face competition," said Ebrahim.

The ANC is expected to face serious competition from a break away party formed by allies and supporters of former president Thabo Mbeki. The ANC recalled Mbeki from the presidency, leading to his resignation.

The breakaway party has continued to recruit people that are defecting from the ANC in protest against the unceremonious withdrawal of Mbeki from the presidency from the ANC.

The new party called the Congress of the People will have rallies this weekend in Johannesburg to explain its policies to the people. The Congress of the People is expected to be launched next week. However, the ANC has contended the use of the word Congress and took the matter to court. A court in Pretoria was on Friday morning due to pass a ruling on the matter.

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