Zanu-PF geared for July-August elections

ZIMBABWE's Robert Mugabe Zanu PF party wants the country to hold elections by August despite strong opposition to an early poll.

The announcement on the eve of the second anniversary of the unity government formed by Mugabe and his opponents to end a decade-old political and economic crisis is likely to further worsen the rising tension in the southern African country.

Harare’s three governing parties are supposed to meet anytime soon and review the progress made by the coalition in terms of a 2008 power-sharing agreement.

Mugabe has indicated that he does not want to extend the lifespan of the coalition although there are indications that he would be forced to give it another six months to allow for the completion of a new constitution and preparations for a credible poll. 

Zanu PF spokesman Mr Rugare Gumbo told the weekly Financial Gazette on Thursday that the elections would certainly be held this year.

“We are still to finalise on the exact dates but it will be sometime at the end of July or in August,” he said.

“Basically we are toying around the dates around August but Mugabe is the one to make the proclamation.”

Not ready

Mugabe has claimed that the coalition, which is credited with rescuing Zimbabwe’s free falling economy and ending a multi-faceted humanitarian crisis, failed to click because of different ideologies.

South African President Jacob Zuma who was appointed by the Southern African Development Communiy to be the mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis has insisted on far-reaching reforms before elections are held.

Analysts also believe the country, which has not held a peaceful election since the turn of the millennium, is not ready for a free and fair poll.

But Mr Gumbo said they believed a fresh poll was the only way out of the numerous disagreements afflicting the coalition.

“We really do not know what will happen to the government of national unity,” he said.

“But what is clear is that it is on shaky ground and in reality, we do not see how it should continue further and as a party we believe elections are the only way out.”

Zanu PF has already endorsed Mugabe who turns 87 later this month as its presidential candidate in the polls.

He will face the Movement for Democratic Change leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for the third time since 2000.

In 2008 Robert Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential elections to Mr Tsvangirai but the popular former trade unionist failed to garner enough votes to claim the presidency outright.

The veteran ruler went on to win the second round unchallenged after Mr Tsvangirai was forced to withdraw due to a wave of violence against his supporters, which was blamed on security forces.

Mugabe’s victory was rejected even by some African countries forcing him to form a coalition government with the two MDC factions.