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Zimbabwe Ruling Party Floats Proposal to Extend Mugabe's Term To 2010

A spokesman for Zimbabwe’s ruling party confirmed Monday that ZANU-PF intends to extend the term of President Robert Mugabe by postponing the presidential elections due in 2008 to 2010. ZANU-PF information chief Nathan Shamuyarira said this would save money by consolidating presidential voting with parliamentary elections.

ZANU-PF is not expected to have trouble pushing through a constitutional amendment providing for such a postponement, given its supermajority in parliament.

Critics of the ruling party said ZANU-PF was less concerned with saving money than with avoiding the wrath of a deeply discontented electorate that has seen its standard of living decline at an accelerating rate since the last presidential ballot in 2000.

The ruling party must also contend with internal divisions over the succession. Though Vice President Joyce Mujuru was seen as Mr. Mugabe's designated successor when she was named to her post in 2004, at least one faction bitterly opposes her rise.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Shamuyarira to clarify the ruling party's intentions as to the elections previously anticipated in 2008.

British-based political analyst Dewa Mavhinga said the proposed change to the ballot schedule indicates that the senior ZANU-PF leadership lacks confidence in Mujuru.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...