Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Agonises Over Polls

ZANU-PF's plans for elections to be held in March have hit a brick wall after it emerged that the referendum, which should have been held this year, is likely to take place next year, making it unfeasible for polls to be conducted during the first quarter of the year.

The development is likely to present the party's leadership with a headache as they will be forced to eat humble pie and admit before the party's conference currently underway in Gweru that they have once again failed to exert their weight and force national elections into the party's electoral schedule.

It has become the party's habit since the formation of the inclusive government in February 2009 that they come up with resolutions on the conduct of elections at the annual gatherings only for the pronouncement to collapse due to disagreements in the coalition government.

The party is also expected to deliberate on mechanism for undertaking primary polls amid pressure on the old guard to accommodate young Turks.

However, the timing of polls is likely to become a conundrum unlikely to be unravelled at the conference due to the fact that elections cannot take place before the constitution-making process has been completed.

Parliament, which is expected to deliberate on the Constitutional Bill, is currently on recess and would resume on February 5, 2013, with a date for a referendum still unclear.

This week, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) skirted discussion of the issue when asked whether a March poll was still feasible considering that more ground was still to be covered.

"The conduct of elections by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is dependent upon proclamation by the President of Zimbabwe.

"The commission will hold elections when they are called for through a proclamation," said ZEC.

Asked yesterday if a March poll was still feasible, ZANU-PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, referred questions to the party's deputy secretary for legal affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, who could not be reached immediately. However, Gumbo said even though Parliament resumes sitting in February, it could be recalled if emergency issues arose.

"We are dealing with a normal process and if it does not work we will call for an emergency meeting of Parliament. I am not saying that is what is going to happen, but I am saying that is normal in a democracy," said Gumbo.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Eric Matinenga, on Tuesday also echoed Gumbo's sentiment that Parliament could reconvene if there was a matter of national importance.

The Minister, who is from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, however, told The Financial Gazette last month that a March poll was not possible judging by events on the ground.

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