Fears as Zanu-PF pushes for elections

January 11, 2012 at 10:58 am Leave a comment

http://www.news24.com/

Harare – A push by veteran President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party for
elections before the end of the year has raised fears among Zimbabweans of a
spike in political violence that could derail a two-year economic recovery.

Tensions are already high over the drafting of a new constitution that major
political parties must agree on before any parliamentary and presidential
polls.

Mugabe’s advancing years – he turns 88 in February – are causing additional
concerns, not least among Zanu-PF followers who fear that question marks
over his ability to do the job after 32 years in power may cost it in any
election.

That said, Mugabe’s main political rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
is facing lurid allegations about his private life that have damaged his
reputation as leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Inter-party violence

Finance Minister Tendai Biti is budgeting for economic growth of 9.4% this
year from 9.3% in 2011, but a fierce contest between Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party
and the MDC could torpedo that.

Analysts say Mugabe is pressing for polls a year ahead of schedule because
of his failing health.

He and Tsvangirai, who were forced into a unity government after violent and
disputed polls in 2008, convened a peace summit in November to defuse
escalating tensions after clashes between their supporters.

Tsvangirai, who is 18 years younger than Mugabe, believes he will win any
free and fair poll, after Zanu-PF intimidation forced him to drop out of a
presidential runoff against Mugabe in June 2008.

The acid test for the anti-violence campaign is likely to come closer to the
election date, when Zanu-PF tends to mobilise its forces in the form of
independence war veterans and youth brigades known as “green bombers”.

What to Watch:

– A rise in inter-party violence as the drive for elections picks up steam.

– Public response to calls for joint peace rallies planned by Zanu-PF and
the MDC.

– Investors shelving or slowing down on their plans due to jitters over
election violence or fear of instability.

Mugabe succession

Zanu-PF’s annual conference in December endorsed Mugabe as its candidate in
the next presidential poll, but analysts say he will face a tough battle
convincing voters to extend his rule.

Although Zanu-PF officials rally behind Mugabe in public, in private many
want him to retire and pass the baton to a younger heir due to fears his age
may cost the party victory.

The pressure has intensified since reports, based on a June 2008 US
diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, that Mugabe is suffering from
prostate cancer.

The death of retired general Solomon Mujuru in a fire in August has also
changed the party dynamics. Reports say Mujuru, husband of Vice President
Joice Mujuru, was pressing Mugabe to step down and that his Zanu-PF faction
had courted the MDC.

What to watch:

– Mugabe trying to heal party rifts or anoint a successor.

– How Mujuru’s camp regroups, and how Zanu-PF rivals position themselves for
power after Mugabe.

Tsvangirai

Local media reports in the past year said Tsvangirai has made two women
pregnant and tried to pay them off. He has so far not denied the charges.

The allegations have provided fodder for his enemies and led some to
question his leadership credentials.

What to watch:

– MDC rifts caused by the controversies

Mining and local ownership

Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere says
mining firms have mostly met deadlines for submitting plans on how to
transfer a 51 percent stake in their operations to locals.

Some foreign mines with operations in Zimbabwe include Impala Platinum,
Aquarius and Rio Tinto , while British banks Barclays and Standard Chartered
Bank operate locally.

The heavily criticised law is aimed mainly at mining firms and banks
operating in a resource-rich state that has become an economic basket case.

Analysts say it is more likely the cash-strapped government wants to wring
concessions from miners such as more cash or mineral rights. This explains
why the government is negotiating with individual companies, the analysts
say.

In addition, the government unveiled a $4bn budget for 2012, which included
an increase in gold and platinum royalties for gold, and banked on $600m in
diamond revenues.

What to watch:

– Details of deals struck between government and miners.

– What the government will do to non-complying companies.

Constitution

Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s parties are quarrelling over drafting of a new
constitution, with Zanu-PF accusing the MDC of trying to smuggle in a law
recognising homosexuals and giving unfettered voting rights to Zimbabweans
living abroad.

The final charter is likely to be a compromise between Zanu-PF and MDC, who
both lack the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to pass the new
supreme law on their own.

A referendum on a draft not backed by either party would likely trigger
violence.

Many Zimbabweans want the charter to strengthen the role of parliament,
curtail presidential powers and guarantee civil, political and media
liberties.

What to watch:

– Zanu-PF reaction to prolonged delays in charter’s crafting

– Reuters

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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