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Zimbabwe President Mugabe Seen Pushing Early Polls at ZANU-PF Confab


Mr. Mugabe is firmly backed by the country's security chiefs or 'securocrats' who in 2008 were accused of taking off the gloves to ensure his re-election through widespread intimidation and violence

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party launched its annual conference on Wednesday in Harare with a party politburo meeting to set the agenda, expected to be dominated by Mr. Mugabe's call for 2011 elections.

The open session of the conference will begin Friday in the Eastern highlands city of Mutare on Friday and runs through Sunday.

Analysts said there could be some discord as many ZANU-PF members of Parliament are not enthusiastic about going to the country just two years into their five year terms.

But Mr. Mugabe is firmly backed by the country's security chiefs or "securocrats" who in 2008 were accused of taking off the gloves to ensure his nominal re-election - opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who defeated Mr. Mugabe in the first round presidential vote withdrew from the June 2008 runoff in protest of widespread deadly violence.

Mr. Mugabe also faces pressure from Southern African Development Community leaders to establish an elections road map as opposed to calling snap elections in early 2011 when the present national unity government will have been in place for two years.

Political analyst Trevor Maisiri told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the election debate within ZANU-PF could present Mr. Mugabe with a dilemma.

Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said issues to be discussed in Mutare include the state of ZANU-PF, which ruled from independence in 1980 until 2009, the national political situation, the economy, media, social services, transport and infrastructure.

ZANU-PF conference organizers have adopted the theme "Total Control of our Resources Through Indigenization and Empowerment," a reference to an initiative to shift control of major private enterprises to indigenous - i.e. black - investors. But some see this as an asset grab by ZANU-PF insiders, and foreign investors are wary.

The independent Newsday daily newspaper reported that Mr. Mugabe said ZANU-PF must rethink its participation in the unity government in light of Wikileak disclosures, saying he accused his government partners of being insincere.

"As we look at the gross violations of international relations perpetrated against us, its is also necessary for the party to review and take stock of its participation in the so-called all inlcusive government," Newsday quoted the president as saying.

"What is galling is the discovery, or perhaps confirmation, that the people we thought were our partners in running the country. were, most of the time, serving masters who are not the people of thios country," said Mr. Mugabe, who is 86 years old.

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