Mugabe calls for party unity amid suspensions

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The Independent Online

President Robert Mugabe called for unity in his ruling Zanu-PF party yesterday despite suspending six senior party officials over who will succeed the 80-year-old leader.

President Robert Mugabe called for unity in his ruling Zanu-PF party yesterday despite suspending six senior party officials over who will succeed the 80-year-old leader.

Mr Mugabe also reprimanded his information minister, Jonathan Moyo, in a row over the President's possible heir which has dominated local media over the past few weeks.

The rebels wanted elections by secret ballot to replace the present system in which they are ordered to endorse nominations made by Mr Mugabe well before Congress opens.

But Mr Mugabe accused them of accepting funding from Britain and British-linked "white capitalists" in a plot to destabilise his government. "Let's not rest on our laurels," he told 9,000 party delegates at the party congress in Harare. "The enemy will not stop his imperialist manoeuvres so we must remain solidly united and always vigilant so we can resist him."

The congress is expected to endorse Joyce Mujuru as the party's first woman vice president and a leading contender as Mr Mugabe's replacement. The President made little reference to how he hopes to overturn Zimbabwe's 300 per cent plus inflation, fuel and power shortages, nationwide hunger and 80 per cent unemployment.

He dismissed Britain as a country possessed by evil demons for allowing homosexuality, adding: "Now a woman can be a man, and a man a woman. Imagine what sort of people they are who can change another man to be a woman? Where are the women?"

He also vowed to resist any "attempts" by Britain to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. "Regime change in our country, regime change Mr [Tony] Blair? Who are you to talk of regime change in Zimbabwe?" he asked. "Let there be regime change in Britain; we will not talk about it ... never ever."

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