Chiefs, Army, Farmers "Plotting Mugabe Victory"

Acccording to the privately owned, The Zimbabwean newspaper, it had learnt about the secret meeting about how the 2011 elections could be manipulated and won from sources within Zimbabwe’s traditional leadership.

Zimbabwean chiefs have a history of supporting President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu (PF).

“Thirty traditional chiefs, senior army senior officers and new farmers are expected to converge at Cranborne Barracks to find ways of retaining Mugabe as president after the next elections expected in 2011,” said the newspaper published on Thursday, quoting a highly placed source within the traditional leadership.

Rapid land distribution to blacks and the next elections would dominate the agenda at the barracks, he said. The military, new farmers that were given expropriated farms and traditional leadership were expected to provide a life-line for Mugabe and Zanu (PF). Top party officials would also attend the meeting.

The source said a huge gathering was expected and as Zanu (PF) was broke, representatives of new farmers and party faithful were going around communities with a begging bowl to raise cash to bankroll the indaba.

“Zanu (PF) no longer trusts civilians, hence the selection of army barracks as a meeting point. Security would be tight and no ‘peeping Toms’ will be accommodated. Participants would be thoroughly vetted. Low-ranking soldiers were expected to grace the occasion as they were regarded instrumental in propping up Zanu (PF)’s waning political fortunes through terror campaigns,” added the source.

As usual, partisan traditional leadership remains central to Zanu (PF)’s intimidation machinery. Chiefs and headmen around the country continue to threaten suspected supporters of the challenging MDC party and, in some cases, evict them for refusing to join Zanu (PF).

People contributing at current public meetings that discuss constitutional changes suggested it should be enshrined in the constitution that traditional leadership be apolitical and discharge their traditional rolls in a non-partisan manner. Others said if traditional leaders wanted to be politicians, then their offices should be occupied by elected officials. The Zimbabwean