HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe's president said Friday he wants South Africa's ruling African National Congress to block an investigation in South Africa into alleged violence and atrocities by loyalists of his party.
President Robert Mugabe, speaking at a convention of southern African liberation movements in Harare, called the probe ordered by a South African court a "racist assault" by embittered Zimbabwean and South African whites.
In May, a South African judge ordered his country's prosecutors to investigate alleged human rights abuses and torture in Zimbabwe in a case filed by a human rights group and Zimbabwean exiles. Those who brought the case, both whites and blacks, say they have documented abuses and envision a trial in South Africa.
Mugabe urged South African leaders to "apply every means at their disposal" to prevent the case souring relations between the two countries that fought a common struggle to end white rule.
He said whites in southern Africa, including white Judge Hans Fabricius who made the probe ruling, are trying to makes excuses for their defeat by the forces of African liberation. He called the judge "a boer," a pejorative term for whites, and said Fabricius has no jurisdiction in Zimbabwe and does not understand the way international law works.
The ruling came at the instigation of those "still in our midst yearning for the old flags" of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence in 1980, and apartheid-era South Africa, Mugabe insisted.
He told representatives of the liberation groups of the ANC, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe that Africa has come under renewed attack from former colonizers determined to replace revolutionary parties with "malleable stooges."
His party is not going to relinquish power without fighting to defend its role in achieving independence, Mugabe said.
Mugabe, 88, has been in power since independence from Britain. He was forced by regional leaders to form a coalition government with the former opposition leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai , after violent and disputed elections in 2008.
Mugabe has been nominated as the sole candidate for his party in elections he has called for this year to end the troubled three-year coalition. He has not groomed a successor to take over the fractious party.
He acknowledged Friday that his party lost votes in strongholds in the 2008 polls and said that some of his lawmakers are now afraid to contest a new poll against Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. But the party could still rule permanently with its traditional support, he said.
"Parties don't retire, its persons who retire. We cannot say we have stayed too long in government so that we should give others a chance to rule," he said.
In South Africa, the judge's ruling is likely to be tied up in appeals for some time before any probe starts.