Despite mounting international pressure, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe would run in the country’s polls likely to be scheduled for June next year. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) unanimously endorsed him as a candidate for the elections on Saturday. The party cadres, along with their leader, also pledged for a ‘harmonious’ ballot in 2011.
The ZANU-PF ruled the country since independence in 1980 with the 86-year-old Mugabe being one of the longest-serving rulers in the world. Zimbabwe’s military has also backed the President and is often alleged to have violently contained the Opposition. However, in 2008 the party was forced into a power sharing agreement with the current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai'sMovement for Democratic Change (MDC) after the general elections were marred by widespread violence and allegations of fraud by Mugabe’s cadres. South African President mediated the power sharing deal.
The agreement however, is on the verge of collapse as the standoff between Mugabe and Tsvangirai worsened in the recent months. The Prime Minister filed a lawsuit against the President accusing him of violating the global political agreement (GPA) signed between them.
This move was seen as an attempt by Tsvangirai to highlight the issues that have been paralyzing the coalition government over the past few months. Analysts also maintained that both parties were unlikely to renew the deal that is set to expire in February next year and call for early elections. Observers are wary of the peace between both factions and fear that instability could return region is the country headed to polls. The presence of international peace keeping forces has already been requested to prevent any form of violence.
Meanwhile, U.S. diplomatic cables leaked by whistle-blower site Wikileaks revealed that South African leader Nelson Mandela, when approached by Tsvangirai, failed to ‘give a firm commitment’ over the Zimbabwe crisis. The MDC leader told US diplomats that other senior South African leaders also refused to act on Mugabe.
In another diplomatic cable, senior MDC advisors told U.S. officials that the United Nations offered Mugabe a rewarding retirement plan overseas if he stepped down from the country’s leadership.
The cable quoted the MDC advisor as saying, “Kofi Annan, in the recent meeting in New York during the Millennium summit, offered Mugabe a deal to step down. Although xxxxxxx said the MDC was not privy to the details, he surmised that Annan's supposed deal probably included provision of safe haven and a financial package from Libyan president Gaddafi.”
It added that Mugabe turned down the offer the following day, after discussing it with the first lady. The advisor maintained that even a ‘shady white Zimbabwean businessman’, told ZANU-PF that he would provide a financial retirement package for Mugabe.