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Mugabe's early election date unsettles MDC

By unknown | Jan 28, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Godfrey Marawanyika

Godfrey Marawanyika

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's decision to call for an election date in March in the middle of regional mediation efforts has put Zimbabwe's opposition in a quandary over whether to take part in the polls, analysts said.

Mugabe's announcement angered the fragmented opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC. MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa accused Mugabe of "an act of madness and arrogance"

"Mugabe has slapped SADC's commitment and President Thabo Mbeki's efforts to try and amicably solve the crisis. Mugabe has jumped the gun," said Chamisa.

The MDC has tried in vain to get Mbeki to lobby Mugabe to postpone the election.

Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the smaller faction of the opposition, said Mugabe's announcement had scuttled SADC efforts to find a solution to Zimbabwe's woes.

"The announcement means that Zanu-PF has repudiated the SADC process and repudiated the talks. As far as we are concerned that process (negotiations) has been terminated by Zanu-PF," Ncube said.

"That very act of calling an election under the circumstances where the mediator is trying to find a solution to that dispute means effectively they have repudiated the talks. As far as we are concerned that is the end of that process. We wait to see what SADC will do."

Mbeki was tasked by SADC last year with mediating between Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition MDC.

Bill Saidi, a Harare-based political commentator, said the opposition was in a quandary as to whether to take part in the election or not.

"They think they owe it to the electorate by participating yet they know they are going to lose. They are under pressure to take part, but the playing field is not fair for them. It's like they are taking a plunge by participating."

According to Friday's announcement, made in an extraordinary government gazette, the elections are set to be held on March 29 while Mugabe will dissolve parliament on March 28. - Sapa-AFP


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