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United States Monitoring Unfolding Political Situation in Zimbabwe

FILE: President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, attend a rally of his ruling ZANU-PF party in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 8, 2017.
FILE: President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, attend a rally of his ruling ZANU-PF party in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 8, 2017.

The United States says it is monitoring the political situation in Zimbabwe amid stern warnings from President Robert Mugabe’s government for accredited diplomats to desist from interfering in the country’s 2018 general elections.

In a statement, the U.S Embassy Harare said, “This week Zimbabweans were inundated with false social media reports regarding the Embassy following political developments in Zimbabwe. We are following the developments taking place in all sectors closely and will continue to monitor the situation.

“The recent developments in the government of Zimbabwe are a matter of internal party politics, in which the U.S. Government does not take sides. We encourage all parties to follow democratic, transparent and peaceful processes, both in internal party matters and in general elections.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi told heads of diplomatic missions in Harare that they should stay out of the current political processes in the country, including the proposed 2018 general polls.

He is quoted by the state-controlled Herald newspaper as saying, “I want to inform you that the election season beckons and l would urge you not to become referees and players in the same. Instead, I exhort you to remain steadfast in your dignified roles of impartial observers as has been already pronounced by His Excellency the President, Cde R.G. Mugabe.

“As with previous elections, the Zimbabwe government has always guaranteed a peaceful environment, before, during and after elections. It’s zero tolerance to violence policy as we approach 2018 elections, is a matter of public record.”

Former Zimbabwe VP Emmerson Mnangagwa
Former Zimbabwe VP Emmerson Mnangagwa

The internal strife in Zimbabwe’s ruling party is pitting President Mugabe’s sympathizers and others loyal to former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was expelled from Zanu PF on Wednesday by a faction of the party said to be led by First Lady Grace Mugabe known as Generation 40 or G40.

Zanu PF activists affiliated to another party faction, Team Lacoste, which was allegedly led by Mnangagwa, are fuming saying his ouster is designed to elevate Mrs. Mugabe to the post of Zanu PF vice president.

They claim that the first lady does not have the liberation credential to occupy that position, noting that it is reserved for people who fought in the 1970s guerilla war.

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa is claiming that he will remove Mr. Mugabe from power within weeks when he returns home.

In a hard-hitting statement, he said, “ … “You (Mugabe) and your cohorts will, instead, leave Zanu PF by the will of the people and this, we will do in the coming few weeks as Zimbabweans in general now require new and progressive leadership that is not resident in the past and refuses to accept change.

“As I leave this post for now, I encourage all loyal members of the party to remain in the party, to register to vote, as we will, very soon, control the levers of power in our beautiful party and country. Let not your hearts be troubled for peace, love, unity, development and prosperity are around the corner. I will be communicating with you soon and shall return to Zimbabwe to lead you.”

But Morgan Tsvangirai, founding president of the Movement for Democratic Change, immediately rubbished Mnangagwa’s claims, saying the former vice president has been part of the machinery that has completely destroyed Zimbabwe and therefore he can’t lead any opposition movement.

Observers say it still remains to be seen whether Mnangagwa will remove Mr. Mugabe from his post through the ballot or other means as former Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa has warned that a coup cannot be ruled out in the southern African nation.