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Civic groups say people should vote on Mugabe term
Loughty Dube, The Independent (Zimbabwe)
January 05, 2007
CIVIC organisations and
political parties have said a referendum is the only way Zimbabweans
can make a decision on the debate to harmonise parliamentary and
presidential elections and the extension of President Mugabe's
term of office by two years.
Debate has been raging
after Zanu PF provinces tabled before the party's conference
in Goromonzi last month a resolution affirming that the presidential
and parliamentary elections should be held at the same time in 2010.
However, the party deferred
making a decision on the resolution after disagreements on whether
the harmonised elections should be held in 2008 or in 2010 and what
the enabling legislation should look like.
Civic organisations and
political parties who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week
said the decision to harmonise elections should not be left to parliament
alone to decide but to Zimbabweans through a national referendum.
Election Support Network chairperson, Reginald Matchaba-Hove,
said under a working democracy there is no way a nation can extend
the term of its leader without going through a referendum.
"There is no way
a parliament with 30 appointed MPs and others elected through a
disputed 2002/5 parliamentary election can use a technical two thirds
majority to extend the term of an unpopular leader without
going through a referendum,"
"If the issue were
to go to a referendum, even Zanu PF supporters would vote 'No'
to an extension of Mugabe's term because the majority do not
want him at the helm but are afraid to come out openly and say so."
Constitutional Assembly chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, while concurring
that a national referendum would be ideal, cast a dark cloud over
"A referendum can
be held but how level is the playing field? If the referendum is
held fairly it should be under conditions where there is no Posa
or Aippa and under conditions where everyone campaigns freely and
people have a right to make a choice without being harassed or beaten,"
The decision by Zanu
PF to delay elections has already come under fire from many quarters,
with former PF-Zapu secretary-general Welshman Mabhena saying Mugabe
is afraid of leaving office because of the sins he has committed
while in power.
The Morgan Tsvangirai
faction of the MDC supported the idea of a referendum but said history
would always repeat itself where Zanu PF would use violence to cow
Zimbabweans to vote in ways that favour the ruling party.
Party spokesperson Nelson
Chamisa said a referendum, if held under the proper framework, was
legitimate in that all Zimbabweans would make a decision on any
He said Zanu PF's
attempt to railroad constitutional changes in parliament should
be resisted by all Zimbabweans as most MPs were not legitimate.
"Zanu PF should
not be allowed to railroad certain changes through a perforated
parliament that has MPs who have pending court cases over their
election. But we know that the majority of Zanu PF MPs are against
the extension of Mugabe's term and they should help Zimbabwe
by resisting his evil intentions," Chamisa said.
national chairman, Kucaca Phulu, however said holding a referendum
over Mugabe's intention to stay in power was a waste of time
as this was a Zanu PF matter.
that President Mugabe proposes in parliament for hanging onto power
are illegal and Zanu PF wants to force people to accept its decisions.
To conduct a referendum on the issue would be a waste of time and
resources," Phulu said.
He said if Mugabe's
term was extended that decision would only benefit Zanu PF.
Madhuku said Zimbabwe urgently needed a new constitution that would
create a conducive framework for conducting referendums and future
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