Zimbabwe: Election fever grips politicians

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Zanu-PF’s high decision body, the politburo has told its dwindling support base to get ready for national elections anytime next year, possibly May. This comes in a backdrop of a recent poll which showed that President Mugabe’s long time rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would win by a whopping 88 percent.

Party secretary for information and publicity Rugare Gumbo told reporters Wednesdday evening in Harare that the politburo meeting early during the day had resolved to gear up for elections.

He said, “We are cut in a way where we are ready for elections any time. However, we need to straighten our structures and generally understand what we did in the past and what went wrong,” he said.

The party’s commissariat was working on ways to ensure Zanu-PF fares better than it did in the 2008 harmonised elections. “What we are trying to do is to look at our structures, programmes and ensure that people understand where we are,” he said.

Veteran leader, President Mugabe has already said he will stand as president, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has also told his supporters to prepare for elections next year.

The two rivals formed a fragile coalition government last year following a
Power-sharing agreement brokered by SADC after a disputed presidential run-off.

Zimbabwe has traditionally held its national elections in March but indications point to May 2011. This would mean that the lifespan of the current Parliament would have been cut short by two years instead of running a full five-year term.

While the timing of the elections could be meant to coincide with the conclusion of the constitution-making process which is currently underway, it is still unlikely that a new supreme law would be ready before fresh polls in view of the needless controversies bogging down the exercise.

Mugabe is on record saying the nation will go for elections in 2011 with or without a new constitution. But analysts are concerned that Zimbabweans, who are always in the polling booth, are not yet ready for elections anytime soon until the playing field, which is currently tilted heavily in favor of ZANU-PF, is leveled.

On the polls survey, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara last week said “A recent survey I saw said Tsvangirai will win by 88 per cent if elections are held next year. So, do you think Mugabe will go into elections knowing that he will lose?”

Political observers said they believed the date was still feasible despite numerous delays in coming up with a new supreme law, caused mainly by Zanu-PF’s fears of losing power.

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