PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has begun to mobilise Zanu PF structures and supporters as he pushes for early elections while his faltering health still permits despite strong reservations by senior members of his party, informed sources said this week.After flying a kite to test the political waters, Mugabe is said to have decided this is the right moment to go for elections and is now fixated on the polls. The sources said Mugabe has started mobilising his party — with the help of the security establishment — to get ready for yet another gruelling electoral battle with the MDC-T and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The top brass of the army, police and intelligence structures are said to be behind Mugabe and Zanu PF again despite their constitutional obligations to remain neutral in executing their professional duties.
Sources said the same structures which retained Mugabe in office during the bloody 2008 presidential election run-off after his defeat by Tsvangirai in the first round of the poll have been reactivated and deployed on the ground to work with Zanu PF functionaries ahead of the draft constitution plebiscite and national elections.
“Those structures are back in action and are working with Zanu PF in a massive restructuring and mobilisation drive for elections,” a well-placed insider said.
Senior Zanu PF leaders told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Mugabe was now convinced that he should lead his party to early elections because this was an opportune moment to dislodge Tsvangirai and the MDC-T and recover lost ground.
“The president is now clear on this issue. He wants early elections by mid next year. He wants elections when he is still fit and when his rival (Tsvangirai) is limping,” a senior Zanu PF politburo member said.
“This means that as a party we must start preparing now and that’s what he was talking about last week. We are now going out in full force to start mobilising party structures and our supporters for elections.”
Mugabe last week told the Zanu PF National Youth Assembly that elections would be coming by mid next year. He said the inclusive government should end by February or soon after the referendum on the new constitution to pave way for elections.
“The constitution-making process has to be accelerated because the life of this creature (inclusive government) is only two years,” said Mugabe.
“It started in February last year and in February next year, it must end. It would have lived its full life and it will not be extended by more than six months or a year. After a referendum then we have elections by mid next year. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t have elections next year.”
Another politburo member confirmed Mugabe has started mobilising the party’s “principal organs and structures”.
“At the moment the idea is to mobilise for elections through the national people’s conference in December, the politburo, the central committee, the consultative assembly, women’s league, youth league, provincial coordinating committees, provinces, district committees, branches and cells,” the politburo member said.
“The party is not in good shape but the national people’s conference would be the best platform for us to formally launch the campaign because all the party structures would be represented there.”
One of the functions of the Zanu PF national conference is to “declare the president of the party elected at congress as the state presidential candidate of the party”.
Sources said Mugabe has already started the campaign to ensure he is declared the party candidate. The Zanu PF women’s league, which usually leads the way, has already said Mugabe would be the candidate and all other structures would now follow suit. His endorsement at the conference in Mutare would be a mere formality.
The sources said in the next politburo meeting Mugabe would impress upon the party’s top leadership the need to get ready for elections.
“The president is going to talk about that issue and discuss strategies for elections. One of the tactics of our campaigns would be to focus on indigenisation and sanctions. We will go all out telling the people that the MDC-T is against indigenisation and has failed or is unable to remove sanctions. It’s going to be a serious campaign.”
While Mugabe mainly campaigned on the platform of land reform since 2000 and during the last 2008 elections, his party now wants to focus on indigenisation and sanctions. Zanu PF leaders think the MDC-T is unable to respond effectively to these issues effectively.
Sources said Zanu PF leaders also believe Tsvangirai and the MDC-T are caught in a spiral of possible terminal decline following their “dismal performance” in the inclusive government and during the ongoing constitution-making process.
Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba, who often reflects his boss’s thinking, has been going to town about this in his column which he writes under a pseudonym in the daily state-controlled Herald on Saturdays.
In one of his telling columns, Charamba claimed on October 2 that Zanu PF had out-manoeuvred the MDC-T in the constitution-making process and put itself in a win-win situation. He said the MDC-T would now be confronted with a choice between a Zanu PF-driven draft constitution (another Kariba draft) and the current Lancaster House constitution.
“The MDC’s dilemma is choosing between Lancaster House and a Zanu PF draft. Much worse, the MDC-T did not have structures in far-flung rural areas where the (constitution-making) exercise began. By contrast, Zanu PF had, and relied on its organic structures to mobilise participation and to consolidate submissions. Not helped by white farmers who have become a sulking lot following the MDC-T’s failure to secure their interests, the party could not mobilise what remains of its farm labourers,” Charamba said.
“The result was that in well over 98% of rural centres, Zanu PF’s position prevailed.” Charamba said MDC-T was forced to bus people into rural areas but ended up being stretched and dismantling its urban structures. Besides, he said the MDC-T’s lack of leadership and lack of organisational capacity have been exposed and this interpretation of events seems to be giving Mugabe the confidence to push for early elections.