Tensions high as Mugabe set to call for by-elections

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Staff Writer

POLITICAL tensions are rising in the coalition government as speculation mounts that President Robert Mugabe is likely to call for by-elections in the 38 vacant constituencies either today or next week ahead of next Friday’s Supreme Court deadline.
The Supreme Court last month ruled Mugabe should gazette dates for the by-elections by August 30 after he lost a High Court ruling appeal compelling him to call by-elections in constituencies once held by expelled MDC MPs Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu.

 
Calling for by-elections would dramatically shift the GPA partners’ attention from the contentious constitutional review process and unfulfilled agreed-to reforms to full-scale election campaigns. The holding of by-elections would change the balance of power in the National Assembly where the MDC formations have a slight majority over Zanu PF.

 
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba was not available for comment.

 
However, Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, widely believed to be Charamba, intimated Saturday Mugabe would not only call for the three by-elections affected by the court order, but all vacant constituencies or even a general election.

 
MDC president and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube on Wednesday accused Mugabe and Zanu PF of trying to railroad the holding of elections without implementing agreed reforms.

 
“It’s time to let the dice roll the way it falls,” said Ncube. “If an election without a new constitution is the only way to move forward, then let it be,” he said.
MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said his party was ready for the three by-elections but would continue pushing for reforms before polls.

 
“It can’t be that type of decision where the president wakes up and calls for an immediate election because there are issues like the voters’ roll that would need to be addressed and inspected by the parties. We have always maintained that the voters’ roll is in shambles and for these by-elections to be held, our input is necessary in its re-construction,” Mwonzora said.

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