Robert Mugabe sets out plans for Zimbabwe elections


Mugabe and rival, Morgan Tsangirai

Mr Mugabe said in papers filed at the High Court that overdue by-elections in several provinces could be ?harmonised? with a general election in the last week of March 2013.Zanu PF was recently accused of seeking to derail the new constitution by proposing a raft of last-minute changes, but Mr Mugabe suggested he would now seek a referendum on the document in just under six weeks.

The 88-year-old president has called for early elections many times already to bring an end to a fractious coalition government with Morgan Tsvangirai?s Movement for Democratic Change formed after violent polls in 2008.

But the latest declaration is the first that includes a vote on the constitution ? something regional mediators have insisted on in a bid to avoid further vote-rigging and violence ? and the first to acknowledge that elections cannot be held this year.

His proposals were however dismissed by the Movement for Democratic Change as ?unrealistic?.Douglas Mwonzora, a spokesman for the MDC, said an election date could only be set in consultation with Mr Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwe Prime Minister, and conditions were not yet conducive for them.

?Army officers are harassing villagers and there has been disruption party political rallies,? he said. ?Violence is still with us, there is still no equal access to media and security sector reform has not been completed.

?The MDC is not so worried about a date for elections, it is more worried about the conditions in which they are held.? Zanu PF is widely seen as wanting elections soon before the ailing Mr Mugabe dies and the party has to take its chances with a successor.

The MDC is understandably nervous about an election. Three years of sharing power with its former nemesis have damaged its own political capital among voters, and exposed divisions and corruption in the party historically preferred by the West to nurse Zimbabwe to recovery.

A recent Afrobarometer poll put the two parties neck and neck ? although the MDC has insisted respondents remained too scared to reveal their true voting intentions.

Western diplomats in Harare have told the Daily Telegraph that were there to be a free and fair election in Zimbabwe tomorrow, they would still expect Mr Tsvangirai?s MDC to win easily.

Source : AFP

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