Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has waded into the disputed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo promising the just-re-elected incumbent Joseph Kabila that Zimbabwe will help him fight off any interference by presumably Western outsiders.
Some have interpreted Mugabe’s statement to mean Zimbabwe could again intervene militarily in the central African country as it did in 1998 when it helped Kabila’s father Laurent quash a massive rebellion threatening his regime.
Kabila was re-elected in a weekend vote discredited by some observers, including those from the US-based Carter Center, as lacking credibility and largely flawed.
Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi has also rubbished Kabila’s re-election, declaring himself the true winner.
Mr. Mugabe, the only head of state at Kabila’s inauguration on Monday, told journalists that Kabila’s victory should not be questioned as the election had been democratic. He was quoted as saying that “any attempt to undermine that democratic government will be resisted by Africa, [the Southern African Development Community] and Zimbabwe, which has been a partner to the Congolese people.”
But Zimbabwean National Healing Minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu of the Movement for Democratic Change wing led by Welshman Ncube told VOA's Ntungamili Nkomo there is no way Zimbabwe could ever intervene militarily in Kinshasa politics.
However, Andrew Meldrum, a former correspondent in Zimbabwe and now Africa editor at the Global Post newspaper in Boston, told reporter Violet Gonda that Mr. Mugabe’s statements suggests he is prepared to send troops to the DRC despite the cost.
“What was interesting is that SADC previously did not send all its troops there, only a few countries did. But really it was mostly Zimbabwe,” Meldrum added.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director McDonald Lewanika said Mr. Mugabe’s statements showed that he has no idea of a democratic election, as the DRC vote was marred from the outset by irregularities and violence.
“It was clear that there was no way that an election in the DRC was going to produce a democratic outcome given the lack of preparedness of the electoral body in that country, given the logistical challenges that they faced in setting up of polling stations, the intimidations and the killings that took place," Lewanika said.
Lewanika said Mugabe hopes to "re-band the group of despots in this region through supporting each other when elections are actually disputed.”
Lawyer and political analyst Psychology Maziwisa, an aide to Indigenization Minister Savior Kasukuwere, said Mr. Mugabe’s statements are being misread.
He said the president was merely showing support for a longtime ally and that reports claiming Zimbabwe is ready to intervene militarily are an exaggeration.