Sunday, April 01, 2012
Poll push ... VP Nkomo, Defence Minister Mnangagwa and President Robert Mugabe (file photo)
by Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe issued his ruling coalition partners an ultimatum on Friday: conclude the new constitution by May or Zimbabwe holds elections under the Lancaster House constitution. Mugabe told a meeting of his Zanu PF party’s central committee that elections would certainly be held this year to end what he called a “government of negatives”.
“Let’s conclude the new constitution, whether we agree or disagree. The dance we have had for the past four years is over. Let us have an election and end this animal called inclusive government,” Mugabe said.
Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-T’s co-chair of a parliamentary committee leading the process to draw up a new constitution, said earlier this week that he envisaged a referendum in September.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, leaders of the MDC factions in the ruling coalition formed after disputed elections in 2008, are demanding a raft of media, security and electoral reforms before a new vote.
But Zanu PF is increasingly concerned that its candidate Mugabe, 88 this year, will not handle the rigours of campaigning if elections are delayed even by as little as a year.
On Thursday, Mugabe warned some within his party who were opposing his election push to “go and join the MDC”.
He thundered: “They [MDC factions] are delaying the constitution arguing on small matters, but we are saying no, no, no. They are out of step. We must conclude this process. If they haven’t finished in time, we will do it our way.
“If they reject the constitution, we will go back to the Lancaster House Constitution, which gave us our independence. That is what we are going to tell the facilitator [South African President Jacob Zuma].
“Their days are numbered and one should expect that by May we have a referendum. It is this referendum that should give us the way forward.”
Mugabe fired advance warning to Zuma in anticipation of opposition to his renewed election push.
“We are a sovereign State and we cannot be led by the government of South Africa,” he vowed.
So determined is Mugabe to push through with elections that he has offered to complete the draft constitution over a roundtable with Tsvangirai and Ncube.
“We want to move on unhindered by little thoughts and in some cases sheer ignorance. This government is a government of negatives. It’s a government of people who do not want to do things for the people,” said Mugabe, who chided Finance Minister Tendai Biti for failing to deposit US$200 million with a fund to revive industries in Bulawayo.
“Bring the document [uncompleted draft constitution] we will complete it ourselves. We have done it before,” he said.