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Troubled by Divisions in His Party, Zimbabwe's Mugabe Rethinks Poll Gambit

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who has been calling for fresh polls to end the uneasy coalition government, is considering pushing the elections to next year as fissures continue to grow in his ZANU-PF party as factions position themselves to take over from the veteran leader.

Lambasting party officials on Friday for fanning factionalism, Mugabe said elections would be held following a constitutional referendum. In the past he has threatened to call elections this year even in the absence of a new constitution and other democratic reforms.

Sources say infighting has spiraled out of control, and is worsened by so-called securocrats demanding to be included in key party structures.

The party’s supreme decision-making body, the politburo, has scheduled a special session to discuss the divisions.

The sources say senior party officials loyal to factions allegedly led by Vice President Joyce Mujuru and Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, traded barbs in the politburo Thursday.

Hardliners led by Tsholotsho lawmaker, Jonathan Moyo, want the party to pull out of the constitutional revision exercise.

But others are worried this may lead to the party’s isolation in the region and internationally. Mr. Mugabe on Thursday demanded that the parliamentary select committee drafting the country’s new charter deliver a draft to the principals by next week.

But a management committee meeting expected to deal with outstanding issues in the draft constitution has been rescheduled as three cabinet ministers who sit in the group will be in Brussels for the resumption of dialogue between Harare and the European Union.

Permanent secretary Joey Bimha in the foreign affairs ministry told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that the ministers will be in Belgium early next week for talks with their EU counterparts.

ZANU-PF select committee co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said there are some outstanding consultations that need to be done before they can submit a complete draft to the three principals.

Sources say Mangwana was grilled by ZANU-PF hardliners at the heated politburo meeting who want to scuttle the process to their own benefit.

Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi, director of the Media Centre, says infighting in ZANU-PF is now a way of life.