Mugabe calls senate poll for November, MDC undecided
Analysts said indecision by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) could cost it seats if it decides to contest.
The privately-owned Daily Mirror quoted Mugabe as telling a meeting of his ruling Zanu PF that his party was gearing for "senatorial elections which are scheduled for end of November."
Mugabe used the Zanu PF's majority in parliament to push through constitutional amendments in August, making provisions for a 66-member senate, of which 50 members will be elected while the rest will be appointed.
Mugabe argues that the senate is necessary to improve the quality of legislation while the MDC says it is meant to accommodate Mugabe supporters.
The MDC has yet to make a decision, with top officials making conflicting comments on their position on the polls.
It agonised over whether to boycott parliamentary elections on March 31, eventually deciding to field candidates only to receive a severe drubbing from Zan PF, which won a two-thirds majority, enabling it to change the constitution.
The MDC and Western governments said the polls were rigged.
MDC officials were unavailable for comment on Saturday but party leader Morgan Tsvangirai wrote in a weekly paper on Thursday that the senate polls were insignificant and would still be rigged by Zanu PF.
"From the MDC, my position as president remains unchanged. Anyone wishing to partake in this process should therefore refrain from crying foul because Zanu PF's intentions are as clear as the September sky," Tsvangirai said in his article in the Finacial Gazette.
But Welshman Ncube, MDC secretary general and some senior officials have said the opposition would contest the polls, which was seen by the media as a sign of a rift in MDC ranks.
Analysts said the bickering would eventually cost the MDC if it decides to field candidates.
"This is confusing the electorate and it could backfire as some of their supporters may decide not to vote because the party's position is not clear," Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, University of Zimbabwe lecturuer, told Reuters.
The southern African country is struggling with a severe political and economic crisis that government critics blame on Mugabe's controversial policies, including his seizures of white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks and his use of tough media and security laws against opponents.
Mugabe says his
opponents have conspired with foreigners to sabotage Zimbabwe's economy
over his land seizures, which he argues were necessary to correct colonial
imbalances that left minority whites in control of the bulk of the prime
farmland - Reuters
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