HARARE — In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe’s party is holding its annual conference ahead of next year’s polls to end the country’s fragile three-year coalition government. No date has been set for the elections, but Zimbabwe political parties seem to be ready for the polls, with the prime minister indicating that he will not contest again if he loses next year.
The song urges all supporters of President Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party to stand up and be counted.
"President Mugabe says stand up and we count our numbers," says the chorus. It is playing at the venue where President Mugabe’s party is holding its conference, this week. ZANU-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo says the conference in Gweru - about 300 kilometers southwest of Harare - is most important.
“It is critical because we are going for harmonized election, early next year, and we need to prepare our party sufficiently in order to win handsomely," Gumbo said. "We are interested in hammering party position. We need to come up with a manifesto that relates to the people.”
Gumbo says the 88-year-old head of state is likely to be the presidential candidate in the polls, which are expected by June 2013. President Mugabe claimed victory in the 2008 elections, but regional leaders nullified the polls citing violence on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party supporters. The two leaders have since formed a power-sharing government at the behest of Southern African Development Community leaders.
Now Tsvangirai and Mugabe’s parties are locked in a disagreement on the contents of a new constitution. A new constitution is one of the conditions set by regional leaders for Zimbabwe to have a free and fair election. Tsvangirai has told his MDC party to start preparing for next year’s elections.
He says he is looking for an action program for his election campaign.
But for Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, losing the next year’s election is out of its matrix. It wants to regain the majority in parliament it lost in the 2008 elections. Spokesperson Rugare Gumbo says the party is well on the way.
“We are quite confident. The party is a well-oiled machine. The party is very strong. There are just a few loose ends that we just need to tie up,” stated Gumbo.
Among those "few loose ends" are condemning violence as Zimbabwe heads for the election. The last elections in Zimbabwe were marred by deadly violence that forced regional leaders to nullify Mugabe’s victory.