Zanu PF cornered into deferring elections

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Sadc has pushed Zanu PF into a corner forcing it to postpone elections to next year or 2013, but the development means President Robert Mugabe may not stand for re-election, analysts said on Tuesday.

President Mugabe and his Zanu PF stalwarts have been insisting that elections should be held this year, with or without a new constitution, but the party was now singing a different tune, following the crafting of an election roadmap.

The Sadc Troika on Politics, Defence and Security took an unusually tough stance on President Mugabe insisting a roadmap with clear signposts be drafted before any elections were held. Zanu-PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa confirmed the elections were likely to be deferred saying:

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

“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 in 2013 assuming that the referendum is completed in September as we have been advised by Copac.”

Political analysts John Makumbe and Charles Mangongera believe the only reason Zanu PF had changed its tune was because of pressure from Sadc.

They said if Sadc had not insisted on a roadmap and showed that it was serious about addressing the political situation in the country, Zanu PF would have ensured the elections were held this year.

“What they would have wanted was to go ahead with the elections regardless of what Sadc had said,” said Mangongera.

“They thought they would be treated with kid gloves, but they were not. If (the) Livingstone (summit) was weak, they would have gone ahead with the elections.”

He added: “They have no choice. It’s not that they have seen reason, but they have been put in a tight spot. They are looking at the timetable and seeing that it’s impossible to hold elections, they have chosen to go public early so that they don’t face an embarrassing climbdown later.”

Makumbe concurred, saying Zanu PF would now want elections in 2013, so that it could find a candidate who could match MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai, who outpolled President Mugabe in the last general election.

“They can’t hold onto (President) Mugabe as a candidate. By 2013, he will be 89 and won’t have the stamina. It will be difficult for him considering that he lost in 2008. The plan will be to offload (President) Mugabe and get a candidate who can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Tsvangirai,” said Makumbe.

“Zanu PF needs time because the party is fractured. They will require time to find a replacement. They needed time just for the Speaker, so they will need a lot of time to find a presidential candidate. The fact is that they don’t have a replacement and they are hoping that somebody will be born in time to fill his (President Mugabe’s) shoes.”

Mangongera believes if democratic space is opened up and the election roadmap followed, MDC-T would win elections. He, however, says if Zanu PF continues to militarise villages and intimidate and harass people, they may win the elections.