Why Mugabe wants early elections

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s flip-flopping on the roadmap to fresh elections has fuelled speculation that the octogenarian ruler is now a lame duck.

His rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has on several occasions claimed that “dark forces” were now running the country, relegating the civilian government to a peripheral role.

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Tsvangirai’s outburst followed frustrations over the seemingly unrestrained powers of the army and police commanders who have openly shown their disdain for ministers from the MDC side of the unity government.

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But questions over who is really in control intensified last week when Zanu PF openly criticised South African President Jacob Zuma’s intention to engage the securocrats on the poll roadmap.

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Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo described the request by Zuma’s facilitation team as “nonsense.”

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A resolution by the Zanu PF politburo on the army generals at its meeting on Wednesday showed that Zuma had touched a raw nerve.

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However, it was Mugabe’s insistence that elections be held this year that seemed to defy logic.

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Negotiators to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), including those from Zanu PF, had agreed that credible elections could only be held next year or in 2013.
Their reasoning was informed by the fact that crucial electoral reforms cannot be completed by the end of this year.

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There is now a strong belief that Mugabe is now a hostage to Zanu PF factions battling for the control of the party in the event that he exits the scene and securocrats desperate to control their ill-gotten wealth.

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Some securocrats have also been implicated in serious crimes such as the Gukurahundi atrocities and they cannot fathom a life without Mugabe at the helm.

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“The tragedy in Zanu is that its leading factions, especially those associated with Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa, are now using their mutual hatred as a way of expressing their support for Mugabe,” Zanu PF Jonathan Moyo wrote in 2008 after Mugabe was endorsed as the party’s presidential election candidate.

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“The divisions between these factions has widened and deepened as they compete to prove which supports Mugabe more than the other.”

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Moyo, who was talking from the terraces, is now back in the fold in Zanu PF and is believed to be working with army generals to push for an election while the 87- year-old Mugabe still has the energy to campaign.

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The Zanu PF leader has travelled to Singapore on five occasions so far seeking treatment for an unknown ailment.

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Moyo’s assessment four years ago still rings true as Mugabe pushes for another election that he cannot win under normal circumstances.

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The difference is that he is now at the forefront of the “dark forces” seeking to foist Mugabe to a seventh term.

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Going to polls this year self-serving for Zanu PF — analyst

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Brilliant Mhlanga, a Zimbabwean media scholar based at the University of Westminster in the UK said Zanu PF is trying to manage its volatile succession politics.
“If ever there are to be elections this year, we must accept that they are mainly meant to help Zanu PF deal with own succession issues,” he said.

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“Also, it is a way of having to find a common agenda with the securocrats whom we all know have always been at the helm of Zimbabwe’s politics.”

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Mhlanga said Mugabe was himself a product of the securocrats who were behind Zanla, Zanu PF’s military wing during the liberation war.

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But another UK-based Zimbabwean academic Bekithemba Mpofu believes Mugabe is his own man and the push for elections is motivated by a realisation that his health is now deteriorating fast.

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“Age is not on his side to have elections beyond this year,” Mpofu said.

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“Second, the longer it takes to have the elections, the more the political playing field is levelled and that does not help Zanu PF.

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“Opinion polls also indicate that Zanu PF might have gained a bit and would therefore want to seize the opportunity.”

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MDC formations argue that electoral reforms and the implementation of a new constitution can only be concluded by the end of this year making polls in 2011 impossible.

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Source: The Standard