CONFUSION swirled this week over whether the ruling Zanu PF would dodge the 2008 presidential election by postponing it to 2010 under the pretext of harm
onising it with the parliamentary poll.
Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira unleashed a wave of speculation on the issue after he was quoted by state media on Sunday saying his party would soon amend the constitution to delay the election until 2010. He then made the situation worse on Monday when he told the Voice of America that the Attorney-General’s office was already working on the constitutional amendment.
Sources said the initial plan was to delay the 2008 presidential poll and have Vice-President Joice Mujuru elected by parliament as interim leader from 2008 to 2010. This would give her the opportunity to consolidate her grip on power before the simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010.
The constitutional amendment would also restrict future presidents to two terms and possibly introduce the post of prime minister. A new constitution in 2010 was also being mulled. But sources said President Robert Mugabe was now contemplating extending his term to 2010 instead of doing it for Mujuru.
While Mugabe has promised on several occasions to go in 2008, last week he refused in an interview with AP in New York to guarantee his departure in 18 months’ time. He only said “I think the time will come soon” without giving details, suggesting he was keeping his options open.
Mugabe has also of late slammed his party lieutenants for jostling for his job, claiming some were even consulting witchdoctors to secure the position.
Although Shamuyarira has since denied having said the election would be postponed, sources say he did say that, but was backtracking because his party colleagues were unhappy with the remarks that confirmed a story published by the Zimbabwe Independent in May last year.
This is not the first time Shamuyarira has denied something he has said on the record to journalists, even when recorded on tape.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, Zanu PF administration secretary Didymus Mutasa and Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele said separately this week there was no Bill as yet to amend the constitution to delay the election.
However, it is known in official circles that the issue was under discussion. The matter was discussed by the politburo on Wednesday.