Why Mugabe has called for an emergency meeting

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ZANU PF politburo meets today in Harare to discuss the biggest challenge to President Robert Mugabe’s 28-year rule. Ruling Zanu-PF party sources said the president would chair a party leadership which starts at 10 am.

from our correspondent in Harare

The 49-member Politburo, whom some of its members lost is split on whether Mugabe should fight on amid claims by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai that he has won.

The election commission must announce the presidential election result by the end of Friday to meet a legal deadline.

Senior Zanu-PF official Didymus Mutasa declined to comment on whether the party was planning for a runoff against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai although another official said earlier it was ready for a vote and would win it.

But Mugabe is believed to have called the meeting of the Zanu-PF’s politburo to “explore what went wrong” and gauge how much support there was within the party for him running in a potential second round. Several ruling party sources says that three options were under discussion: a negotiated, immediate departure for Mugabe; a second round of voting by April 19 as required by law if no candidate has a majority; or a 90-day state of emergency in hopes of improving conditions before an eventual runoff.

The dire state of Zimbabwe’s finances make organizing a second round of voting difficult, sources said.

Some ruling party officials are arguing that a runoff this month is impractical and that Mugabe must use emergency presidential powers to delay that vote until June or July Mugabe faces deep discontent as Zimbabwe suffers the world’s highest inflation rate 165 000%, a virtually worthless currency and severe food and fuel shortages.

As Zanu PF meets, late yesterday the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) approached the High Court, seeking the immediate release of results from last Saturday’s presidential elections which the party claims were won by its leader, Tsvangirai.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa says the MDC had been forced to go to court after the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce the presidential results five days after polling ended.
Chamisa said: “We have taken the matter to the High Court. On Tuesday, our lawyers wrote to the commission advising it of our wish to have the results announced immediately. This has not happened and the commission must explain why.”

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said Tsvangirai had won 50.3% of the vote to President Robert Mugabe’s 43.8%, so avoiding a run-off. The ZEC has yet to release official results.

The ZEC has announced results from the weekend elections in drips. The final results for the House of Assembly, now dominated by the opposition, were only announced on Wednesday.

The first results for the Upper House (Senate) came in on Thursday evening.

Delayed results of the election to the senate – which must precede presidential results – trickled in on Thursday night.

First results issued by ZEC showed Tsvangirai’s MDC and Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF each winning five seats out of 60 contested for the senate, parliament’s upper house.

Zimbabweans are most interested in word on Mugabe’s intentions since he lost control of parliament’s lower house for the first time. They have been waiting since Saturday’s election to hear whether he was also defeated in the presidential vote.

“I’m happy that the MDC has won the parliamentary elections, we needed the change and I think things will start getting better now but the presidency is the most important one and we need official results,” said Kelvin Matongo.

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