Mugabe gears up for crunch Zim vote

2012-12-06 12:07

Harare - Facing would-be successors and widespread unpopularity, President Robert Mugabe will gather his Zanu-PF party for a congress this week, hoping to plot a path to victory at upcoming general elections.

The annual conference, which begins on Friday, is the last before much-anticipated national polls scheduled for next year.

Mugabe, Zimbabwe's leader since independence from Britain 32 years ago, hopes to use the elections to tighten his grip on power.

The veteran leader is currently locked in a shaky power-sharing government with longtime rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

And he faces a series of other challenges: The dire state of the country has made his rule deeply unpopular, and his allies have begun jockeying to replace the 88-year-old despite the fact that he is officially the party candidate.

Analysts say Mugabe's party has little to entice voters, and will likely deliver a populist message of black empowerment, even if his so-called "indigenisation" policy aimed at redistributing wealth to black Zimbabweans has often served the president's cronies more than the country.

"This time their message is centred around indigenisation, but it's meaningless to the majority of the population struggling to earn a living," said Takavafira Zhou, a political analyst from Masvingo State University.

The controversial indigenisation law was passed two years ago, forcing all foreign-owned firms to cede a 51% share to locals in what Mugabe says is a reversal of imbalances created during colonial rule.

2008 general elections

But in fact the programme is about "self-enrichment for the elite in Zanu-PF," said Earnest Mudzengi, an independent analyst.

Running under the theme "indigenise, empower, develop and create jobs", the two-day congress will be held at the party's 5 000-seater conference centre on the outskirts of the central city of Gweru.

The conference comes as the party battles to patch up after factionalism cost it dearly in the 2008 general elections, where for the first time since independence in 1980 it lost its majority in parliament.

Critics say Zanu-PF as a party has run out of fresh ideas.

"Zanu-PF is a sunset political movement which is not forward-moving. They cannot even discuss critical issues like succession, which is affecting the party," said Mudzengi.

Little new is expected to come out of the conference, which "will likely be discussing the same old rhetoric of fighting imperialists and preaching about indigenisation, which they do not have the capacity to implement," according to Mudzengi.

If free and fair elections are held "under the current state of the economy and public perception, Zanu-PF will lose," he said.

Analyst Takavafira Zhou said that because the party's chances of victory "are next to nothing", a repeat of the violence that rocked the 2008 elections is probable.

"It's highly likely that they will manipulate the flawed electoral system and use violence to force themselves back in office," said Zhou.

Ordinary people

Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo dismissed allegations his party would resort to violence.

"We are clear of our policy that we do not approve violence," he said.

Gumbo said he is confident the party's policies will deliver electoral success.

"We have developed policies such as the land reform and indigenisation policies that we believe will secure votes for us," he said.

"Our policies are sought by ordinary people."

Mugabe was forced into the current coalition government to stop a wave of violence around the disputed 2008 vote and halt an economic tailspin. Regional leaders brokered the power-sharing deal to avoid a full-scale conflict.

The deal also pushed for political, security, electoral and media reforms, which observers say have been slow in coming and limited in scope.

"We haven't seen reforms in the country, especially in the electoral sector," said Mudzengi, who said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is still staffed with Zanu-PF sympathisers.

"The electoral system may be manipulated in favour of Zanu-PF," he said.

  • Eterni80 - 2012-12-06 12:17

    rumor has it that someone broke into the zim parliament and stole the next election results..

  • derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-12-06 12:33

    You can put as much spin onto it as you like, bottom line is he's loved by most of his people and will win this election as a result.

      kevin.moxham.3 - 2012-12-06 13:03

      yes sure like he did the last election...?

      avremel.niselow - 2012-12-06 13:04

      If that was the case why were previous election results not released?

      Mutsvene - 2012-12-06 13:12

      Derek,for sure,the old man's popularity is on the ascendancy and the truth is MDC T does not have an alternative they can offer to Zanupf's indigenisation policy.The writing is on the wall for Tsvangirai.

      SkyeBenga - 2012-12-06 14:39

      Yeah. Like an abused woman loves her man.

      raj.morar.1 - 2013-01-11 13:15

      LOVED? WIN? The article is on the so-called Zimbabwe election, not the American election.

  • Derek Chapman - 2012-12-06 12:54

    20000 people will vote, Zanu will win with a majority of 1 million votes and SA will declare the election free and fair

  • impi.masondo - 2012-12-06 13:39

    president mugabe must stay because he saved the country from imperialist

      rob.tubbs.39 - 2012-12-06 18:40

      Impi. Your brain is ready for collection from the local clinic.. When did you arrive on planet earth - certainly not in the last 20 years.. Oh Yeah dont forget your Fathers birthday this year......

  • siphoza.zandela - 2012-12-06 13:43

    Please die you stupid black man that lives a lifestyle equal to that of a rich white man, yet BOB hates the whites, but he live like one. Why doesn't BOB go live in a mud hut and wear loin clothes and carry an spear and eat pap and go to his own clinics...

      rob.tubbs.39 - 2012-12-06 18:42

      Hey 'bro' you hit the nail on the head........

  • donovan.dunn.77 - 2012-12-06 13:58

    So the conference goes like this: "Welcome. How do we get the votes? result: We intimidate and threaten with brutal violence until we win" end of conference....

  • glenview.rungano - 2012-12-06 16:46

    Tsvangirai is a traitor , we are going to vote for zanupf !!!!!

  • gary.s.ndlovu - 2012-12-06 18:35

    The fact is Mugabe is going to win freely and fairly because the majority voters love him. These analysts are commenting not on behalf of anyone. Lovemore Madhuku who helped the formation of the MDC said it clearly that Tsvangirai won't win.

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