|September 1, 2011
Mugabe concedes defeat over election date
President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF have given in to pressure from within the party, the MDC formations, Sadc and the international community to hold elections after the enactment of a new constitution in 2012. Senior Zanu PF officials told the Zimbabwe Independent that Mugabe somersaulted on the resolution made at the party's annual conference in Mutare in December 2010 to hold elections 2011 with or without a new constitution.
Mugabe and the politburo's forced U-turn has thrown the 87-year old leader's election plan into disarray. Politburo sources said Mugabe conceded for the first time on Wednesday that he could only call for elections once Zimbabwe had a new constitution, putting paid to the mantra that he could proclaim elections with or without a new supreme law.
Sources in Zanu PF say those close to Mugabe, particularly from the state security service and party structures responsible for election strategy, wanted the polls this year when the president is still quite fit. "The president said he wants early elections but that can only be done after the new constitution," said the politburo source. "So it's obvious that there are no elections this year since a referendum is expected in January next year." Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed that Mugabe will only call for polls once a new constitution is in place.
Although the parties of shaky coalition government have agreed on the election roadmap paving way for free and fair elections, the actual timing of the polls has remained a bitterly contested issue. If the constitution-making process flops or the draft is rejected, elections would be held when they are constitutionally due in 2013. The source said the politburo also deliberated on the progress of the constitution-making process, which has been delayed by a lack of funding and bickering between Zanu PF and the MDC-T. The drafting of the constitution is expected to start on September 15 after finalisation of its themes.