Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (R) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are clearly at odds. Reuters

As Zimbabwe's next elections, originally planned for 2011, are now called into question, the media in the West as well as in Africa announce that "divisions are re-surfacing in Zimbabwe's constitutional-revision process as the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe has accused the Movement for Democratic Change of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of dragging out the process to postpone elections."

However looking at the coalition government when where the two parties not divided in the first place? Robert Mugabe has never hidden his disdain for Morgan Tvangarai, who was repeatedly detained and beaten up during his political career prior to becoming part of the government.

The two leaders have clearly never seen eye to eye and never pretended to like each other. Mugabe famously described Tsvangarai as a "A white man masquerading as a black" and "A tea boy for his white boss " while adding "Let the MDC and its leadership be warned that those who play with fire will not only be burnt, but consumed by that fire".

On the other hand the MDC leader remained the most defiant of Mugabe's opponents and systematically denounced the governmentf for its abuses of basic human rights, "There are people in this country who have been killed, raped and assaulted and we're saying the government must take responsibility."

So how this coalition government was supposed to work in the first place remains a mystery to me.

The latest divisions centering on the date of Zimbabwe's next presidential elections merely illustrate another one of ZANU-PF and the MDC's diverging opinions on how to move forward and rule the country.

Speaking at a press briefing at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, Tsvangirai said elections were likely to take place early next year as long as agreements were reached between members of Zimbabwe's unity government, "so that when an election is conducted it is no longer contestable."

He then further added "There will be no election this year, our colleagues in ZANU-PF wanted an election this year and we felt there was not sufficient preparation for an election to take place, especially with incidents of violence and intimidation manifesting themselves in the country."

His proposal stood in sharp opposition to ZANU-PF officials, who want the parliamentary select committee in charge of constitutional revision to wrap up their work so elections can be held in 2011.

ZANU-PF Chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo told the Dutch Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Barbara Joziasse, that the national unity government put in place in February 2009 has run its course and so new elections should be held as soon as possible.

"Our position as a party is that we must conclude the constitution-making process and go to elections. The inclusive Government has failed because our policies with our colleagues in Government are different," Khaya-Moyo said.

"You can't mix water and oil. Our ministers from ZANU-PF are not allowed to travel to Europe and the MDC ministers are allowed to travel around the world and you expect such a government to work. The inclusive government was never meant to be a permanent arrangement and we are now living on borrowed time."

However, sources close to the regime say Mugabe is willing to rush into elections as he fears that his declining health will soon stop him from being able to wage a full scale presidential campaign.

Another problem standing in the way of elections are financial problems. While the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has come up with a US$400 million budget for elections, Finance minister Tendai Biti also announced that the Treasury was struggling financially as it desperately seeks US$150 million to finance a budget deficit.

SADC, is now said to be helping with funds and negotiations will be led by South African President Jacob Zuma. However the Southern African Development Community's input will come at a price and officials warn "Zuma will be coming to Zimbabwe to meet principals over the roadmap and tell them that money for elections will only come if the GPA is fully implemented and President Robert Mugabe stops violence against opponents."

The outcome of the elections will be extremely important as the situation in the country is still precarious and instability could hinder the recent small economic progress essential to firmly put the country on the path of recovery.

Hyper-inflation, the spread of HIV and AIDS, and the decline of commercial farm production, have marked the recent history of the country that was once called "the bread basket of Africa" and all those factors led to a widespread lack of food and other essential items across Zimbabwe.

Mugabe's disastrous choice of economic policies led to an inflation rate that once culminated at 100,000 per cent, the highest in the world, while in 2007 it was reported that 80 per cent of the population lived on less than $1 a day, without access to basic commodities such as food and water.

The country faced a humanitarian crisis as 5.1 million people, almost half of the population, struggled to eat one meal a day.

However despite improvements in areas such as food security and basic social service delivery, cholera has recently surged due to the breakdown of city sewerage systems, poor maintenance of water supply systems including hand pumps, severe drinking water shortages, and the lack of basic hygiene items such as soap

Robert Mugabe first rose to power in Zimbabwe as a freedom fighter and was hailed as a hero by many Africans. He started off as a real Pan-Africanist and fought against colonialism, which at that time was seen as the main obstacle standing in the way of Africa's development. As today proves it however, it turns out that freedom fighters do not make for wise politicians. Mugabe might still stand in defiance of the West but he is an expert at using the techniques of repression learned from the colonial powers. Throughout the years of his rule he established a brutal regime and publicly explained that any person willing to be part of the opposition will put their life at risk. He continued to colonise his people by allowing wide spread corruption, brutality and fear to infiltrate the everyday life of Zimbabweans while channelling the country's funds away from people and to the people at the top of the regime.

As Mugabe cannot pretend to avoid the fact that his popularity has hugely declined in his country and throughout the continent, whenever they take place, it seems that the results of the next presidential elections will be anxiously awaited by both camps.