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March poll unlikely in Zimbabwe
Ndlovu, Mail and Guardian (SA)
January 11, 2013
President Robert Mugabe is unlikely to carry out his threat to make
a unilateral call for elections in March because the new Constitution,
a prerequisite for the poll, remains bogged down by unresolved disputes
and a pending referendum.
Delays in staging
the referendum have thrown Mugabe's plan for early elections into
jeopardy, with rumours in political circles that elections may only
be held in June.
A Human Rights
Watch report released
on Thursday, Race Against Time: The Need for Legal and Institutional
Reforms Ahead of Zimbabwe's Elections, said Zimbabwe's unity government
has not made the reforms necessary for holding a credible election
and that holding elections in March could result in "widespread
human rights violations".
in Zanu-PF and the co-chairperson of the constitutional parliamentary
committee, Paul Mangwana, said this week that there are still six
outstanding constitutional disputes between his party and the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) formations.
on the Constitution can only take place after consensus is reached
on these issues. Mangwana remained upbeat: "We started off
with 30 (sticking points) but just a handful remain. We are optimistic
that these will be ironed out in the coming weeks and that the referendum
will happen any time before March."
Mugabe is away
in the Far East on his annual holiday, leaving a leadership vacuum
in Zanu-PF, which cannot adopt a position on the outstanding issues
without his input. He is expected back at the end of the month,
and Zanu-PF's Politburo is set to meet in the first week of February
to deliberate on the constitution-making process and elections.
issues are the devolution of power, the creation of a national prosecuting
authority, scaling down the executive's authority, the formation
of a national peace and reconciliation commission, and the adoption
of running mates in the next election.
Under the running
mates clause, Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai would have
to pick individuals to stand alongside them in the elections. The
running mate would automatically assume the post of deputy president
in the event of a victory.
Zanu-PF is opposed
to the proposal, reportedly seeing it as a potential avenue for
an internal succession battle to spill over on to the election stage.
Deputy president Joice Mujuru and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa
have been locked up in a decade-long fight to succeed Mugabe.
This week, Zanu-PF
spokesperson Rugare Gumbo restated the party's strong opposition
to the devolution of power. Several provinces backed the devolution
proposal during the constitutional outreach exercise.
to have devolution. Zimbabwe is too small a country to be divided,"
said his stance reflects the dominance of political parties at the
expense of the views ordinary people expressed during the outreach
a political analyst, said "fatigue" had set in among voters
as a result of the protracted fight over the Constitution between
Zanu-PF and the MDC.
just want the constitution-making process to finish ... they're
looking forward to seeing the principals come up with a compromise
this year. If that happens, everything else will fall in place -
the referendum and the elections," he said.
process was initially supposed to take 18 months, but has taken
more than three years because of bickering among political parties.
an MDC official and a representative of the party in the constitutional
parliamentary committee, expressed optimism that a breakthrough
would be reached this week, when the committee was scheduled to
make its presentation to the cabinet committee.
on suggestions to unlock all the issues except the one on running
mates," said Mwonzora.
observers say they expect Mugabe to back down on his earlier insistence
that polling should be staged under the old Lancaster House Agreement
to go this route if the constitutional parliamentary committee failed
to incorporate Zanu-PF's
demands in the Constitution.
a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said Mugabe was shrewd
enough not to anger regional and continental blocs by being belligerent.
calls for elections under the old Constitution it will produce the
same result as the 2008 elections. The two MDC formations, the Southern
African Development Community and the African Union would never
accept such a scenario."
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