Exclusive: Mugabe prepares for war

Zimbabwe's leader defies the world to send in new wave of thugs

Robert Mugabe is preparing to defy international pressure and launch a systematic crackdown in Zimbabwe aimed at reversing his defeat in the presidential election two weeks ago, according to dissident policemen who have been briefed on his plans.

Through an intermediary, the policemen told The Independent on Sunday that they have been ordered to be ready to deploy today or tomorrow. With their ranks swollen by so-called "war veterans" given police uniforms, they would take over constituency "command centres" used in the 29 March elections.

Two weeks ago the ruling Zanu-PF party not only lost its majority in the House of Assembly, but, in the presidential contest, Mr Mugabe is believed to have finished well behind Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The growing crisis over the government's failure to release the election results, coupled with rising violence in rural areas where the MDC did well, has reinforced fears of a crackdown. Mr Mugabe has also defied international pressure to declare the result, spurning a regional summit on Zimbabwe's problems called yesterday by the President of neighbouring Zambia.

On Friday, police banned all political rallies, a move initially thought to be aimed at an MDC protest meeting in the capital Harare today. A police spokesman said the force did not have enough officers to handle rallies because many were still guarding ballot boxes or preventing post-election violence. But it appears the order may also have been issued to give the police time to move into position around the country. Once they are deployed, opposition parties believe, the government could announce the presidential result and the date of the second round, claiming no candidate won an overall majority. This would also forestall the MDC's High Court action demanding the immediate release of the results, on which a judge has promised to rule tomorrow.

The dissident policemen said that "war veterans" – in reality Zanu-PF enforcers – would be given police uniforms, and, for the first time, police numbers, making it impossible to distinguish them from regular officers.

In rural constituencies, the policemen said they had been told their role would be to campaign openly for Mr Mugabe. Some areas would be closed altogether to outsiders. "This is a national plan," they told the intermediary. They added that the "war veterans" had been recruited to act as watchdogs over any policemen reluctant to carry out orders.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa met Mr Mugabe in Harare yesterday before going on to Zambia, but said there was "no crisis" in Zimbabwe and called for patience. Yesterday, Gordon Brown called for the election results to be published "immediately".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own