Zanu PF at crossroads

HARARE - Despite its feigned bravado about preparedness for crunch elections this year, President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF is in a serious predicament about the party’s prospects in pulling off the election by July 31, analysts say.

Zanu PF spent the better part of the year claiming that elections would be held by June 29, a propaganda line which has dramatically and embarrassingly collapsed. To date, Zanu PF has completely failed to hold primary elections which are likely to be messy given the intense rivalry among camps angling to succeed the 89-year-old Mugabe.

Apart from being financially bankrupt, the former ruling party is also riddled with factionalism which has literally destroyed party structures in seven of the 10 provinces with party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday admitting that there are some areas which need “readjusting.”

“The money will be found. Do you honestly think we will go for elections without money?” Gumbo said without revealing the source.

With less than a month to go before the July 31, deadline, the ex-majority party is yet to hold primary elections to select candidates as rivals who include young Turks, party bigwigs and the Women’s League slug it out for positions.

The politburo — Zanu PF’s highest decision making body —  has been forced to shelve primary election guidelines for over a year now because rivals cannot agree on the rules and regulations.Analysts say with Zanu PF in such a mess, its prospects of winning the forthcoming elections are narrow and only a miracle will save the stuttering party.

 “We are ready for elections. Don’t worry about the fact that we have not held primary elections. The politburo will be meeting on Wednesday to discuss the matter,” Gumbo said.

However, insiders say Zanu PF is at its weakest and dismissed Gumbo’s assertions that this week’s politburo meeting will find a solution.

Zanu PF has been unable to deal with the sticking issues regarding the rules governing the elections but Gumbo insisted the party has agreed on 95 percent over the issues.

Fronted by Oppah Muchinguri, women in Zanu PF are demanding a quota — something that is also provided for in the new Constitution but being strenuously resisted by party hardliners who expect to be rewarded with seats for their loyalty.

According to the new Constitution, a total of 60 seats are reserved for women in the House of Assembly, a matter which will also be addressed in the Electoral Act which is due for amendment before elections.

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya says if Mugabe is serious about holding elections by July 31, he should go ahead and proclaim the date.

 “If Zanu PF is seriously ready for election, let Mugabe call for elections before the amendment of the Electoral Act.

“It is now a week after the courts made their decision. Why has he not proclaimed election dates if he is serious?”, Ruhanya queried.

Schedule 6 of the new Constitution states that there should be an amendment of the Electoral Act before election dates can be announced.

With barely a month before the lapse of the Constitutional Court deadline, Parliament is in a race against time to amend existing legislations to conform to the new Constitution. Ruhanya, who is also the director of political think tank, the Zimbabwe Institute of Democracy, added: “We all know Mugabe is not a product of an election, we need to know what they are up to that is convincing them that they are ready for an election.”

Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher with the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch said Zanu PF believes it is ready because they think reforms are not necessary.

He said the former ruling party might be sincere about its readiness and willingness to abide by the court ruling in the comfort of their support from the military and also a skewed State-controlled media.

“Zanu PF’s insistence that they are ready for elections when all indicators are that they are not helps divert attention from important reforms on the grounds that there is no time to have the reforms.

 “Zanu PF has been saying they are ready for elections since December 2010 while taking little action to pave way for elections that are genuinely free and fair,” Mavhinga said.

With Zanu PF bullish and adamant that polls will be held this July without reforms, the two MDC formations and other opposition parties have taken a stand saying they will not go for polls without reforms.

Sadc, guarantors of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) will soon hold a summit to deliberate the Zimbabwe election crisis including poll funding and also the implementation of an election roadmap. - Thelma Chikwanha, Features Editor

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