Mugabe makes final pre-election push
Thousands gather in capital Harare as Zimabwean president reaffirms policy of indigenisation.
Harare, Zimbabwe – Thousands of people have flocked to a final Zanu-PF campaign rally in Harare to hear Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, speak publically for the final time before elections on July 31.
In a speech that lasted more than hour, the 89-year-old Mugabe on Sunday called on Zimbabweans to honour their country’s struggle for freedom.
Mugabe also used the opportunity to reaffirm his party’s commitment to the controversial indigenisation policy, which stipulates businesses worth over $500,000 should have black Zimbabwean ownership of at least 51 percent.
“If you want to invest your capital into my land, you are free to do so, so long as you recognise that you are the owner of the capital and not the owner of the resource.
“Our wealth is our wealth; it must enrich Zimbabweans [and] if they want to share in our wealth, they must come as subordinate partners,” Mugabe said to applause across the stadium.
Zimbabweans go to the polls on Wednesday in an election described as yet another face off between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), led by the current prime minister, 61-year-old Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zanu-PF supporters waited patiently from the early morning to hear Mugabe speak during Sunday’s event which many think will be his last rally for political office.
Supporters said they were there because Zanu-PF was the party that brought liberation to Zimbabwe.
“I have come to support him because he is a visionary leader, a teacher and carries the history of the country,” Norman Nyamasvisva, 22, told Al Jazeera.
Tensions are rising high between the two parties, who have been in an uncomfortable alliance since 2009, amid multiple accusations of rigging, voter manipulation and other irregularities.
Earlier on Sunday morning, Morgan Komichi, the election organiser of the MDC was arrested after he reported marked ballot papers were found in a dustbin following early voting a fortnight ago.
It was alleged that ballots had been dumped in a dustbin at the Harare International Conference Centre after security forces, who will be on duty in Wednesday’s polls, voted early on July 14 and 15.
On Saturday, Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s finance minister and secretary general of the MDC, told Al Jazeera that the elections would not be free or fair.
Biti described the conditions in the lead up to Wednesday’s elections as “immoral and illegal”.
“With three days to go before the election, we do not have access to the voter roll, nor do we have a list of the voting stations,” he said.
“With great respect to Zuma and the AU, but credibility has been pronounced before the actual election.
“No where else does this happen in the world,” Bitti said.
Mugabe has ruled the country since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
His rule has been fraught with corruption, authoritarianism and the country suffered an meltdown following the controversial land reform policy in the early 2000s.
Additional reporting by Tendai Marima.