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Constitutional Bill signals Harare ready for IMF expulsion - analysts
HARARE -- A
controversial government constitutional Bill railroaded through Parliament
yesterday was the clearest sign yet that Harare may have "settled
for the probability that it will be expelled by the International Monetary
Fund (IMF)", analysts said.
President Robert Mugabe
and his government were most likely to follow up Tuesday’s rights-curtailing
Bill with more similarly repressive laws in the future as they put up
a "brave couldn’t care face" to the international community,
the analysts ominously warned.
"That they have
passed this Bill even as the IMF is still in the country shows the government
has settled for the probability that it will be expelled and go deeper
into isolation," Harare-based economic analyst John Robertson told
"Like North Korea,
the message they are sending out is that we do not care about the IMF
or the international community," said Robertson.
An IMF team has been
in Zimbabwe since last week for critical consultations over the southern
Africa country’s economic recovery programmes as well as its loan repayment
plans to avoid expulsion by the Bretton Woods institution.
Robertson said the
Bill that seeks to effectively nationalise agricultural land would scare
away international investors and derail all efforts at reviving Zimbabwe’s
The new law was also
a slap in the face for the IMF which emphasizes human and property rights
and has in the past clashed with Mugabe over his seizure of farm land
this week by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) as a "direct and undisguised
frontal assault" on the rights of Zimbabweans, the Bill bans private landowners
from contesting seizure of their land by the state, while courts will
be prohibited from hearing such appeals.
The new law that now
awaits Mugabe’s signature before it can be effective, will allow the government
to deny passports to its critics and will also create a 66-seat Senate.
Mugabe has publicly said he wants to use to the Senate to appease disgruntled
lieutenants in his ZANU PF party by rewarding them with seats in the upper
University of Zimbabwe
political scientist Eldred Masunugure said the constitutional Bill demonstrated
the government cared little about "people’s rights." The political
scientist warned that Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party would use their
absolute control of Parliament to unilaterally change Zimbabwe’s constitution.
"This is one of the biggest assaults on democracy we have witnessed in
this country and goes to show that we are dealing with a government that
does not respect people’s rights .... sadly this will not be the last
time the government will be coming with such amendments."
A confidential ZANU
PF document leaked to the Press several months ago suggested the party
wanted to alter the constitution to extend Mugabe’s term by another two
years. The Zimbabwean leader’s term expires in 2008 but he could rule
until 2010 if the constitution is amended.
According to the document,
which ZANU PF and Mugabe have not denied, adding another two years to
the ageing President’s term would allow his heir apparent Joyce Mujuru
to understudy him before taking over. Mujuru is currently second Vice-President
Zimbabwe is grappling
its worst economic and political crisis since independence from Britain
Critics blame the
crisis on mismanagement and repression by Mugabe, the only ruler the country
has ever known since the British left.
Expulsion by the IMF
would be then last signal to other multilateral institutions, development
agencies and donor groups to cut whatever little aid is still trickling
to Harare. Creditors would also call back loans, a development sure to
hasten the total collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy.
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