Sources said Mugabe told Copac co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana during a politburo meeting on Wednesday that the exercise should gather pace to ensure Zimbabweans go to elections to end the inclusive government which his party formed with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T and the MDC-M.
Mangwana had initially told the politburo that the writing of the new constitution was facing serious financial constraints and could be further delayed.
Mugabe, sources said, expressed disappointment over the constitution-making exercise’s snail’s pace.
Earlier this year, Mugabe ordered Finance minister Tendai Biti to budget $200 million for the referendum and elections.
The constitution-making process was marred by violence and intimidation for which MDC-T blames Zanu PF.
The principals, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, agreed under the 2008 Global Political Agreement that a new constitution is required before fresh elections. A new constitution will replace the 1979 Lancaster House constitution.
A senior Zanu PF member said Mugabe was clear that Zimbabweans would go for elections next year soon after the writing of a new governance charter.
According to Mugabe, a referendum should be held in March followed by elections in June, although critics say democratic reforms should precede polls. On the other hand Mugabe argues he does not want a prolonged extension of the inclusive government.
The senior Zanu PF member said: “The president (Mugabe) was disappointed over the delays in the Copac programmes. The delay in the constitution-making process means delayed elections and Mugabe doesn’t want that.”
The source said despite earlier differences over the elections among politburo members, there was consensus at the Wednesday meeting that Zanu PF should push for elections because they believe MDC-T’s fortunes were waning.
“People should stop doubting that elections are there next year. Mugabe wants the elections and everyone in Zanu PF is now committed to make sure that the party wins. It’s highly likely that we are voting in 2011,” said the senior Zanu PF member.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that seven of the 10 Zanu PF provinces had endorsed 2011 polls, while more endorsements were expected from the remaining three which are still to hold their provincial conferences.
“Provinces have been endorsing that as you have been aware – a number of provinces except three that are still to go for their conferences. The rest have all endorsed that position in terms of their resolutions as provinces and actually it is expected that the conference itself will endorse what the provinces want,” he said.
“The logic of it al is that we are in an inclusive government and this inclusive government is as a result of the GPA which has a limited lifespan, actually of two years and in these two years it is anticipated that a new constitution will have been in place followed by elections. We cannot violate it. I hope by the expiry we shall also be concluding the provision of the GPA and go for elections.”
Asked if senior members opposed to early election had expressed their views, Moyo said they had not formally done so.
“Not formally, nobody has ever said this formally at any meeting. People might be having their own inner feelings but have never heard any formal pronouncements by anybody over this matter,” he said.
Asked if the reason could be because they were afraid to publicly oppose the president, Moyo questioned why they should oppose something sensible.
“If the president speaks sense which he does all the time, surely I don’t know why one should go against sense and logic and if that is what people say, so be it. In the politburo, central committee and conference, people are free to express themselves. People are saying we want elections next year, the GPA is spending time quarrelling,” he said.
About legislators concerns that they wanted a guarantee that no primary elections would be held in their constituencies, Moyo said primary elections would be held as in prescribed in the Zanu PF constitution.
“They have not brought that to us. The party constitution provides that there must be primary elections for everybody unless the constitution is amended, which I don’t see happening at all,” he said.
On violence and intimidation, Moyo urged all parties not to engage in violence and told the police to arrest anyone involved irrespective of their political party.
“There must be no violence. This country has law enforcement agents and really they have a duty to protect citizens and if there is anybody that is involved in violence –– it is not one sided –– this must be stopped, we can’t allow it. We can’t allow people to be muzzled by whomever. The police must apply law to its fullest,’ he said.
Asked war veterans leaders is being allowed to harass villagers, Moyo said: “We don’t know what he has done. He has denied everything. We have not heard of any specific case he has done to warrant any action against him.”
He also denied that soldiers were being deployed countrywide to campaign for Zanu PF and also said there was no militarisation of the party.
“I saw it in the private paper; I don’t know what that is (boys on leave). We have never discussed it as a party –– I only see it in the media, it has never been brought to our attention. We are all war vets, we are all military people. I was part of those that liberated this country and now I must not participate in the running of the country, why?” he said.
He referred questions related to Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena and former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-internal, Sydney Nyanhongo working full time in the party’s department of commissariat to national commissar Webster Shamu.
See full interview with Moyo in next week’s edition.
Faith Zaba/Brian Chitemba