The Herald newspaper quoted him as saying: "It will never happen that this land which we fought for should be taken by the MDC so that they can give it back to our former oppressors, the whites."

 

He said the war veterans told him "this country was won by the barrel of the gun and should we let it go at the stroke of a pen? Should one just write an X and then the country goes just like that?"

 

The 84-year-old also warned voters against making a "mistake".

 

Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesman, told Al Jazeera: "Clearly President Mugabe is no longer popular with the people because of the breakdown of governance in this country.
 
"The people made their choice on the 29 March. They voted for change. It was Zimbabweans who voted for change.
 
"And it is President Mugabe who is finding it difficult to come to terms with the reality that he is no longer popular and that his policies are no longer selling to the people of Zimbabwe.
 
"And this is why he is now threatening war."

 

Mugabe took power as a guerrilla leader in 1980, liberating the country then called Rhodesia, from British rule.

 

Treason charges

 

The MDC, whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested and released twice on Thursday, had two campaign buses impounded on Friday.

 

The MDC said that the move was made to derail their campaign.

 

"Mugabe is finding it difficult to come to terms with the reality that he is no longer popular and that his policies are no longer selling to the people of Zimbabwe."

Nelson Chamisa, MDC spokesman
Meanwhile, Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary-general, is set to face a treason charge in court on Saturday, an opposition lawyer has said. The charge carries a potential death sentence.

 

Lawyer Selby Hwacha said on Friday the high court ordered Biti to be brought before court in response to an opposition plea.

 

The court is likely to ask why he should not be released.

 

Biti was arrested on his return from abroad on Thursday. Police have not released any details concerning why he has been charged with treason.

 

State-run Zimbabwe Television said in a report that a secret document written by Biti had been unearthed which it claimed showed how teachers employed by the electoral commission had "agreed to overstate the vote" for a payment.

 

Bright Matonga, Zimbabwe's deputy information minister, told Al Jazeera that "Tendai Biti who was on the run decided to come back and hand himself over to the police".

 
"He is facing two counts - one is treason and the second is publishing false statements."
 
Wayne Bvudzijena, a national police spokesman, told the AFP news agency that Biti will also be charged for proclaiming victory for the party in the March 29 joint presidential and parliamentary elections before the official announcement of results.

Biti left the country shortly after he had declared that the MDC had won the general elections, despite official results not yet being released.

 

'Organised intimidation'

 

The MDC won the first round of elections on March 29 but tensions have escalated since then.

 

Tsvangirai has been detained four times in
the last nine days while campaigning [AFP]
Tsvangirai officially fell just short of an outright victory over Mugabe in the first round but insists he in fact won more than 50 per cent and is only taking part in a run-off vote under protest.
 
Tsvangirai, human rights groups and Western nations have alleged that Mugabe has used organised intimidation and violence to win the presidential run off.

 

Mugabe blames the MDC for the violence and has continually portrayed Tsvangirai as a puppet of Britain.

 

Forty African leaders, including former heads of state, business leaders, academics and diplomats, said in an open letter published on Friday that it was "crucial" that the run-off be seen as "free and fair".

 

"It is crucial for the interests of both Zimbabwe and Africa that the upcoming elections are free and fair," they said.

 

Signatories included Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies