Back to Index
draws battle lines as Zim Parliament convenes
Mail & Guardian (SA)
August 21, 2007
and ruling party squared up in Parliament Tuesday at the start of
a session that is set to usher in controversial changes to the Constitution
ahead of next year's elections.
President Robert Mugabe
is expected to get overwhelming approval for his plans to synchronise
the timing of the parliamentary and presidential polls as well as
force through boundary changes the opposition say will unfairly
increase his chances of winning a seventh term in office.
Although a planned debate
on the constitutional amendments was put off until a later date,
the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) signalled
its intention to harry Mugabe at every turn by demanding an immediate
discussion on the economic crisis in the former British colony.
MDC lawmaker Tapiwa Mashakada
moved a motion for an urgent debate on "the economic meltdown
and atrophy which has seized the Zimbabwean economy since the year
2000" when Mugabe embarked on a programme of seizing white-owned
"The MDC is alarmed
by the rate of hyper inflation and the adverse impact this has had
on the life of the ordinary people, workers and business in Zimbabwe,"
Mugabe, in power since
independence in 1980, is currently facing the biggest crisis in
his presidency, with the inflation rate above 4 500% and more than
80% of people unemployed.
A directive for retailers
to slash their prices, launched two months ago, was designed to
ensure that cash-strapped consumers could once again afford household
But the controversial
Operation Dzikiza (Operation Reduced Prices) appears to have backfired
with an initial rush on stores being followed by widespread shortages,
with manufacturers no longer able to meet their production costs.
In a speech last month
which marked the formal opening of the National Assembly, Mugabe
said that "harmonising elections will reduce costs and enable
government to focus more on developmental issues".
changes, which are certain to be nodded through given the ruling
Zanu-PF's commanding majority, will see the number of MPs increased
from 150 to 210 as well as ensure presidential and parliamentary
elections both take place around March next year.
The MDC has been particularly
incensed by the boundary changes which will see the proportion of
MPs in rural areas -- Mugabe's traditional stronghold -- increase
markedly at the expense of urban areas, where the opposition usually
Joram Gumbo, Zanu-PF's
chief whip, told Agence France-Presse that the government was determined
to push through the changes despite the MDC's objections.
"They are just are
a barking dog and the elephant, us in power, will continue to move."
Gumbo also confirmed
that a controversial Bill which seeks to ensure that 51% of shareholding
of all public listed firms is held by black Zimbabweans would be
put before MPs this session.
"This session needs
seriousness from both parties as we will seek to empower our people
through the indigenisation Bill," he said.
Debate on Tuesday was
dominated by speeches from Zanu-PF members in praise of Mugabe but
the speaker adjourned proceedings after little more than an hour
until Thursday as a large number of MPs from both sides were absent.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.