Mugabe’s Divided Party Gears For Election

Despite the 86-year-old leader’s recent utterances that the shaky coalition was advancing well — thus reducing prospects of an election — senior sources in Zanu PF confirmed that the party was now preparing for the holding of elections in 2011. The idea was initially suggested by South African President Jacob Zuma, but strongly opposed by Mugabe and his main partner in government, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who became Prime Minister under a power sharing deal signed in September 2008 and implemented in February 2009.

The party is reported to have already revived its notorious bases used in the aftermath of the 2008 harmonised election, which were disguised
as information centres. In addition, a new set of party membership cards – believed to be ranging in the millions – are also being printed.

Zanu PF’s new spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo and political commissar Webster Shamu were not immediately available, but sources in the former ruling party confirmed there were “serious preparations for possible elections next year”. MDC officials involved in the constitution making process have also confirmed that the Zanu PF bases were now causing confusion in the rural areas.

“The party is currently on a massive mobilisation drive across the country,” said the source.

“More than one million cards are currently being printed, and the party is working on ways of ensuring that every person, especially in the rural areas, has a membership card. The mobilisation will begin with the distribution of cards, after which grassroots structures will be reinvigorated.”

“There is no official position yet, but the general consensus is that the party has to prepare for elections,” said our source, a Zanu PF central committee member.

“This appears to be a better option than to give in to the demands of the MDC formations that the party should surrender key posts of Reserve Bank Governor and Attorney General, as well as provincial governorships.”

The source however said the new campaign had been shattered by the apparent lack of support from the Zanu PF faction aligned to Defence
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the party’s secretary for Legal Affairs. Mnangagwa is widely believed to have masterminded Zanu PF’s
comeback in 2008 after losing the first round to the MDC. This time around, his team is said to be reluctant to be very active in campaigning for Mugabe after he snubbed him for a more senior appointment in the politburo. Mnangagwa was widely tipped to take over as Zanu PF’s secretary for administration ahead of the incumbent Didymus Mutasa, who angered the party’s leadership by expressing interest in the national chairmanship of the party.

During a debate on the new constitution early this month, Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed that bases were already being set up in some areas.

“We have received reports that bases are being set up … we condemn such kind of violence unreservedly regardless of where it is coming from. We call upon parties to dismantle these,” said Mwonzora during the debate, organised by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI).

Zanu PF director of information, Steven Chidavanyika – who also took part at the debate – did not deny the allegation.