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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Backed by Security Chiefs in Push for Elections Next Year


During the turbulent 2008 election period the Joint Operations Command took charge of Mr. Mugabe's interests in the run-off phase in which violence against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was widespread

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, backed by the Joint Operations Command of security service chiefs, is pushing hard for elections next year, but sources say most senior members of the politiburo of his former ruling ZANU-PF party have been cautioning him against rushing into such a ballot.

Party sources say however that the politiburo has little influence on Mr Mugabe, who has openly blamed it for failing to campaign effectively for him in the 2008 first-round presidential election, which he lost to then-opposition leader and current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, before securing re-election unopposed in a contested run-off ballot.

During the turbulent 2008 election period the Joint Operations Command took charge of Mr. Mugabe's interests in the run-off phase in which violence was widespread. ZANU-PF has yet to reach a consensus on elections, but insiders say the "securocrats" have already deployed military elements and war veterans on a “reconnaissance mission.”

The Joint Operations Command (which was supposed to have been dismantled under the terms of the Global Political Agreement for power sharing) is said to have deployed Brigadier Douglas Nyikaramba in Manicaland province, war veteran leader Jabulani Sibanda has been active in Masvingo province in recent months, and youth militia are becoming more active in Mashonaland Central province with a base established in Muzarabani.

A chain of command is said to have been established from the JOC to senior officers in various parts of the country, with local ZANU-PF politicians and war veterans, and youth militia acting as a proxy military force.

Mr. Tsvangirai charged this week that ZANU-PF is now dependent on police, the army and operatives of the Central Intelligence Organization as it no longer has enough party activists on the ground prepared to mobilize.

ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the politiburo is still seeking a consensus and has not taken up the question of 2011 elections. Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi said ZANU-PF will have to resort to the repressive state security apparatus to be competitive in a new election.

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