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Zanu PF Conference Promotes Local Control of Large Companies in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses his supporters at the party's conference in Mutare, east of Harare, 17 Dec 2010

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party is holding its annual conference and establishing its campaign for elections which many analysts believe will be held next year. Morgan Tsvangirai, prime minister in the troubled inclusive government and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, says the only election in 2011 should be a rerun of the disputed presidential poll of 2008.

Zanu PF's campaign for the next year, with or without elections, is local control of large companies doing business in Zimbabwe. It says the majority black population should have majority shares in all companies valued at more than $500000.

The party says it will take majority control of all western owned companies if western restrictions, or sanctions, are not lifted from Mr. Mugabe, his colleagues in Zanu PF and a dozen, mostly state owned companies.

The party conference held in the eastern city, Mutare, comes when there are tensions within Zanu PF.

Simba Makoni, who was a lifelong member of Zanu PF and was in Mr. Mugabe's cabinet until a few years ago, says many in Zanu PF do not know how to tell Mr. Mugabe they no longer want him to lead their party or the government.

"I would say from my observations of the goings on in ZANU PF at the moment, the majority of opinion there does not favor Mugabe continuing to lead the party and the country," Makoni said.

Makoni said Zanu PF would emerge from its conference as disunited as it went into it.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) held a national council meeting this week as Zanu PF's conference got underway, where it made resolutions about future elections.

MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mr. Mugabe in the first round of presidential elections in March, 2008 but pulled out of the second round citing violence against his supporters. For the first time parliamentary polls were held simultaneously with presidential elections in what became known as 'harmonized' elections. The MDC narrowly won a majority in the legislature.

Mr. Tsvangirai said his council had resolved that it was not necessary for parliamentary elections to be held next year.

"For the avoidance of doubt, Council resolves that the next election should be solely for the disputed presidential election of 2008 with the harmonized election held in 2013 as prescribed in the constitution," said Tsvangirai.

Mr. Tsvangirai also said it was not up to Mr. Mugabe to decide, unilaterally when any elections are held.

He said the political agreement which underwrites the inclusive government spells out that Mr. Mugabe must consult with him, as prime minister, before calling any fresh elections.