Zanu PF Spokesman blasts Chinamasa

HARARE – In a dramatic twist that exposing the bitter infighting in Zanu PF, party Spokesman Rugare Gumbo has dismissed statements by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that elections have been postponed to next year amid reports of bitter infighting in Zanu PF that could lead to a split of the party ahead of the elections.

Gumbo said Chinamasa and Tsvangira were only expressing their personal opinions, saying the revolutionary party still stands by the Mutare People’s Conference resolution that elections will be held this year.

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Last week, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Zanu PF’s chief negotiator in power sharing talks with the two MDC factions in the coalition government, said the party had agreed to a raft of measures to clear the path to free and fair elections.

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Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity, Rugare Gumbo, says the two have no right to express their personal opinions as fact or make decisions on such issues as the powers to do so are only vested in the Head of State and government and commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe.

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“The party’s conference made a clear resolution, endorsed by the Politburo and the Central Committee, even COPAC has informed us that they are likely to finish the constitutional process this year, so I don’t understand why our negotiator Chinamasa failed to consult the party which has given him the trust to represent it,” said Gumbo.

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He added that there is no room for personal opinions when it comes to the proclamation of the election dates.

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The Zanu PF spokesperson said even SADC is advocating for a speedy implementation of outstanding GPA issues, adding that Chinamasa should have been better informed that as a negotiator he represents Zanu PF.

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Gumbo said President Mugabe has already indicated that elections will be held this year as soon as the constitutional process is complete, but instead Mr. Tsvangirai has said the polls will be held next year.

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“Tsvangirai cannot make a declaration on election only the President can change that,” said Gumbo.’’

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Gumbo however noted that Zanu PF’s highest decision making body, the Politburo, will look into the issue of elections this Wednesday and come up with a final position ahead of the SADC Summit set for Namibia later this month.

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In an address to the media last week Chinamasa, said some of the conditions may not be met until 2013 at the earliest.

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“It is my own opinion that it is not possible to hold elections this year. We need to start talking about elections next year or 2013, assuming that the [constitution] referendum is completed in September as we have been advised by COPAC [Constitutional Parliamentary Committee],” Chinamasa told the state-run Herald newspaper.

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Chinamasa said Zanu PF negotiators and those from the two MDC factions led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube had agreed an “election roadmap to identify sign posts to be traversed ahead of elections in Zimbabwe” – including media reforms, amendments to the Electoral Act and the lifting of Western sanctions on Zimbabwe.

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“The election roadmap identifies activities to be undertaken before elections, taking into account activities, some of which to be taken sequentially and others concurrently,” said Chinamasa.

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Chinamasa’s suggestions that elections could be held as late as 2013 will be seen as the clearest indication that Mugabe, 87, will not be Zanu PF’s candidate.

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With constant reports of the veteran leader’s failing health, the two-year delay to elections could allow Zanu PF to manage its internal succession politics, an analyst said last night.

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“Zanu PF has been clamorous in its demands for an election this year. This new stance may very well be a statement that the news from Mugabe’s doctors is not very good,” said the analyst.

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Mugabe formed a coalition government with opposition rivals following disputed and violence-hit elections in 2008.

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