JOC pushing hard for quick elections due to Mugabe's deteriorating health

President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party are plotting to collapse Zimbabwe's inclusive government to stampede the country into early elections, in a move which sets him on a collision course with SA President Jacob Zuma and other regional leaders.

The Zanu-PF politburo, chaired by Mugabe, resolved on Wednesday that if the constitution-making process continues stalling, they would "walk out" of the coalition government and call for elections.

Zanu-PF blames the two MDC factions and donors for sabotaging the process. The politburo decided that if Finance Minister Tendai Biti and donors did not release money soon to fund the constitution-making process, Zanu-PF would have to quit the government.

Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed that his party would "walk out" if Biti did not release money to complete the constitution-making process and call for elections.

Biti said in an interview on Friday that Zanu-PF was free to withdraw from government.

"Mugabe and Zanu-PF are free to quit. It’s their constitutional right. After all, they lost the 2008 elections," he said. "We know their strategy is to force us into elections under conditions of widespread political violence, a skewed playing field and a climate of fear."

Information obtained by the Sunday Times this week shows that Mugabe, working closely with his Joint Operation Command (JOC), has come up with a series of strategies on how to wriggle out of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and Government of National Unity (GNU) to force elections by August or September. JOC brings together chiefs from the army, police and intelligence.

A senior politburo member said JOC was pushing hard for quick elections because of Mugabe’s deteriorating health.

Mugabe is reportedly suffering from prostate cancer although he has denied this.

"There are several strategies on Mugabe’s table on how to proceed. The idea is that we should have early elections when the president is still fit health-wise," the source said.

The other issue is that JOC thinks Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T are at their weakest and would not win because the soldiers have given Mugabe a head start.

Senior politburo members say Mugabe’s strategy for elections includes:

-First option is to go for elections after the constitution-making process.

– Second option is for Mugabe to declare a deadlock in the constitution-making process, withdraw from the GPA, revert to the old constitution and dissolve Parliament.

-Third option is for Zanu-PF to simply pull out of the GPA and GNU, forcing a government collapse, resulting in elections.

Mugabe wanted to arbitrarily end the inclusive government by February 11, claiming the GPA had a two-year lifespan and then extend it by six months after which elections would be due. However, the plan failed because the GPA does not have that provision. – Timeslive