13 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Election Dates Divide Zanu-PF

Photo: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton
ZANU-PF Party headquarters.

TWO camps have emerged within Zanu PF, with one opposed to the holding of elections this year, while the other prefers polls in June, The Standard has learnt.

Despite Zanu PF's public posturing that elections should be held as soon as possible, sources said most senior officials holding positions in government and MPs, were against the holding of elections this year.

But Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa yesterday dismissed reports that the party was not ready for elections saying those were views of a few individual members.

A politburo member said all was not well, as most party officials were of the view that Zanu PF was not yet prepared for elections and wanted them postponed even to next year.

The Zanu PF official said some of the party gurus were afraid that if elections were held soon and in the event that President Robert Mugabe won, they would not be accommodated in the future government.

"Some of the officials against elections are cabinet ministers. They want the current GNU set up to be extended, so that they can continue looting. Some have been implicated in corrupt deals," said the politburo member.

"Others know elections will spell the end of their political careers and they will do anything to have them postponed."

The politburo member said officials against early elections were already lobbying Mugabe and other members of the presidium, warning them that early polls would spell disaster for the party.

But officials opposed to early elections were said to be facing serious opposition, mostly from the party's so-called "Young Turks", who are itching to take over from the old generation.

Another senior official and MP said the Young Turks were confident that whether Zanu PF won or lost the next elections, they would be well-positioned to take up senior leadership positions in the party.

"The Young Turks and a few others are arguing that there will be a constitutional crisis if elections are postponed beyond September this year," said the MP.

"On the other hand, those against elections argue that a crisis will be avoided if the two MDCs agree to the plan and another constitutional amendment is done."

However, the official said it would be up to Mugabe to decide which side to take, but it was likely that he would take the side of those wanting elections this year.

Zanu PF at its annual national people's conference held in Gweru last month resolved that Mugabe should dissolve Parliament and proclaim a date for the elections if the constitution-making process was not concluded by last Christmas.

But the cabinet and parliamentary committee tasked with breaking the impasse on constitution-making has since failed to meet the deadline and there are no signs that Mugabe would unilaterally call for elections.

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