PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is considering calling for an early general election, taking advantage of the Supreme Court ruling ordering by-elections in three Matabeleland constituencies, it emerged yesterday.
Report by Patrice Makova
Sources said Mugabe was convinced that the Supreme Court ruling ordering him to set dates for the by-elections, settled the debate on whether it was necessary for him to consult Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, when deciding dates for polls.
The Supreme Court in July ordered Mugabe to gazette the dates for the outstanding by-elections by August 30.
Judge President, George Chiweshe, on Thursday granted a consent order allowing the 88- year-old leader a 30-day extension of the deadline, after his lawyers and representatives argued that he needed more time to mobilise funds to hold the by-elections in all the 38 vacant House of Assembly and Senate seats countrywide.
“The Supreme Court has given Mugabe ammunition because the ruling clearly states that it is the President alone who should proclaim the dates for elections,” said a senior politburo member.
“Instead of holding elections in the 38 vacant seats, Mugabe wants to go ahead and hold early general elections, probably by March next year. The extension of the court deadline has given the party time to strategise.”
Another senior party official said the current deadlock on the Copac draft constitution and the continued squabbles on the implementation of outstanding GPA reforms was enough grounds to convince Sadc that only elections could resolve the problems in the country.
Zanu PF has re-written the Copac draft, maintaining Mugabe’s sweeping powers, while deleting provisions meant to democratise the country.
But the two MDCs have rejected the amendments, insisting that the Copac draft was final and have already called on Sadc appointed facilitator, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to intervene.
“Sadc favours elections to resolve the political impasse in the country,” said the Zanu PF official.
“As far as Zanu PF and the President are concerned, Sadc must not stand in the way of elections because there is a deadlock now. What Sadc may do is force us to agree on setting up minimum conditions to hold elections.”
Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, were fruitless last week.
Zanu PF was initially threatening to call for elections this year, but a Sadc summit in Angola three months ago resolved that polls should be held by June next year, when the constitution-making process has been completed and when agreed political reforms have been implemented.