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Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF, in Convention This Week, to Insist on 2012 Elections

ZANU-PF faces an acute dilemma in President Robert Mugabe's insistence on remaining the head of the former ruling party - and consequently its presidential candidate - despite his reportedly failing health

Hardliners in Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party will push during the party's annual conference this week for elections in 2012, sources say.

But the party faces an acute dilemma in Mr. Mugabe's insistence on remaining its head and consequently its presidential candidate despite his reportedly failing health.

Opening on Thursday, the conference will focus on the economy with special emphasis on the indigenization and economic empowerment process which proposes to put a 51 percent controlling stake in foreign enterprises in the hands of Zimbabwean blacks.

Insiders say party hardliners will seek to pass a resolution to push for elections next year and oblige Finance Minister Tendai Biti to tap unallocated reserves in the 2012 budget to fund them in addition to the constitutional referendum coming up in first order.

ZANU-PF Chairman Simon Khaya Moyo said the party will launch a nationwide election campaign soon after the conference.

Mugabe spokesman George Charamba also insisted elections will be held next year despite the slow pace of electoral, media and other reforms and resistance by the two co-governing formations of the Movement for Democratic Change.

But observers including the International Crisis Group say they doubt elections can be held in 2012 unless reform is accelerated, which seems unlikely given strong ZANU-PF resistance to restructuring of the national security apparatus that is a key support.

The Southern African Development Community has also urged reforms called for under the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing - the basis of the current unity government - to be instituted before new national elections are held.

ZANU-PF Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said elections are the only way forward to prosperity though the business community is wary of destabilization.

Political analyst Philip Pasirayi, based at Oxford University in the UK, said ZANU-PF leaders have their party's interest at heart, not that of the Zimbabwean people.