PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is stepping up efforts to manipulate the Supreme Court ruling to proclaim by-election dates in three vacant constituencies by seeking another extension to enable him to call for early general elections.
Report by Herbert Moyo
Mugabe was initially given up to the end of August and then October 1 to proclaim by-election dates for three constituencies declared vacant after the expulsion of Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu from the Welshman Ncube-led MDC.
In his latest application filed on Wednesday, Mugabe showed he was delaying the by-elections to hold out for early harmonised elections.
“The applicant’s desire is to hold elections the last week of March 2013 and a proclamation to this effect will be made at the appropriate time,” Mugabe’s lawyers said in the application.
Mugabe and Zanu PF have been expressing their desire for early general elections, apparently because of continuing fears about Mugabe’s suitability as a candidate later next year due to his advanced age, increasing health concerns and also to capitalise on recent public opinion survey findings.
Freedom House and Afro-Barometer surveys put Mugabe ahead of his main rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC-T should elections be held now. The survey showed support for MDC-T had fallen from 38% in 2010 to 20% this year while support for Zanu PF grew to 31% from 17% over the same period.
Mugabe’s poll plans have faced hurdles, particularly from Sadc which insists reforms outlined in the Global Political Agreement must be fulfilled first to ensure credible polls.
As the Zimbabwe Independent reported soon after the Supreme Court decision in July, senior Zanu PF officials at the time expressed joy that the court decision, though appearing a defeat for Mugabe, suited their designs of circumventing Sadc’s opposition to elections without reforms.
Zanu PF’s thinking was reflected in the state media in Nathaniel Manheru’s opinion piece titled Zanu PF: When defeat gets so sweet.
“More dramatically and boldly, the president may use this judgment to dissolve parliament and get the country to move post-haste to harmonised elections,” he wrote.