PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Monday met with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and agreed to call an urgent meeting between principals of the Global Political Agreement and army generals to tackle the issue of possible violence in the forthcoming elections, Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said yesterday.
REPORT BY EVERSON MUSHAVA CHIEF REPORTER
Tamborinyoka said Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed the country could only hold peaceful elections if soldiers were confined to their barracks during the polls. The meeting is scheduled for early next month.
The development comes amid reports that soldiers in civilian clothes have already been deployed countrywide to campaign
for Zanu PF, triggering fears of a repeat of the bloody 2008 election violence.
Mugabe has already indicated that he wants the elections to be held at the end of March, although his coalition partners insist no date has been agreed on and that reforms allowing for free and fair polls needed to be put in place first.
“The principals agreed yesterday (Monday) to convene a National Security Council (NSC) meeting as soon as possible to discuss the issue of violence-free polls with the security chiefs,” Tamborinyoka said.
Mugabe has not called for NSC meetings at which Tsvangirai attended for almost five months although the NSC Act stipulates that the body should meet every month to receive reports and discuss key State security issues.
The council is chaired by Mugabe and is made up of Tsvangirai, the two Vice-Presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo, the two Deputy Prime Ministers Thokozani Khupe and Arthur Mutambara, service chiefs, as well as ministers responsible for Finance, Defence and the police.
The three political parties in the inclusive government also nominate one minister each to sit in the meeting.
“The President has insisted on the need for free and fair elections and the security forces will be key to this,” Tamborinyoka said. Some senior military personnel have publicly threatened not to recognise Tsvangirai as President even were he to win the forthcoming elections.
Soldiers, believed to be the force behind Mugabe’s long hold on power, are reportedly threatening villagers with war if they do not vote for Zanu PF. The MDC-T says it has received reports from Midlands, Mashonaland, Masvingo and Manicaland provinces to this effect.
On another note, Tamborinyoka said the principals had also agreed that there was no government policy that allowed the invasion of conservancies and that Zanu PF bigwigs, military personnel and traditional leaders, who recently invaded the Save Valley wildlife sanctuary in Masvingo, must be stopped.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba could not be reached for comment yesterday as he was not picking up his cellphone.