ZIMBABWE’S economic recovery and social regeneration have been thrown into turmoil after President Robert Mugabe last week called for an early campaign for the 2005 general election.
Analysts this week said this might be a signal that he intends to amend the constitution to hold both the presidential and general elections concurrently in 2005.
Mugabe’s term as president should officially end in 2008.
Civil rights campaigner Brian Kagoro said Mugabe wants to save face by shortening his term as a way of bargaining his exit with the opposition.
“It might be an indication that he wants to amend the constitution and have the presidential election concurrently with the general election in 2005,” said Kagoro.
President Mugabe suggested last week during his whirlwind tour of the countryside that his party should start preparing for the 2005 election.
“We should start preparing for the elections now because 2005 is not far away. There is only one and a half to two years to go,” he told party supporters at a rally in Shurugwi last Thursday.
This is expected to usher in another period of political upheaval. Most seriously it is bound to jeopardise economic recovery.
The country has been in election campaign mode for three years with politicians embarking on self-serving programmes at the expense of key policy issues like Aids prevention and food security.
Analysts say Mugabe would be happy to have the country in a perpetual state of instability as a way of distracting the populace from his failed policies on land and the economy.
MDC secretary for Legal Affairs David Coltart however said Mugabe’s rallies were not necessarily electioneering but an attempt to garner confidence after he was rattled by the mass action.
“I am convinced that he is not electioneering but that he is reacting to the mass action,” said Coltart. “The mass action was a close call for Mugabe. He is trying to build his own confidence in areas where he believes he has a residue of support.”
He said Mugabe would not call for an election until he was sure that Zanu PF supporters would coalesce around a chosen successor.
Economist John Robertson said Mugabe’s election campaign will drain the limited resources left in government coffers since he often uses state resources to fund such campaigns.
“He will be using money that should be going towards infrastructure development,” Robertson said.