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opposition 'co-operating in their own demise'
Sebastien Berger and Peta Thornycroft, The Telegraph
September 20, 2007
have been accused of "co-operating in their own demise"
after they reached agreement with President Robert Mugabe's regime
on major constitutional
Under the landmark
deal, Mr Mugabe's power to appoint 30 MPs has been abolished and
the number of parliamentary seats will be raised from 120 to 210.
An electoral commission
consisting entirely of the President's allies will draw up these
constituencies. They could seize the opportunity to rig the new
seats in favour of the ruling Zanu-PF party before presidential
and parliamentary polls due in March.
of the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have agreed
to this. They have also endorsed a key amendment of the constitution
which allows parliament - where Mr Mugabe's allies have a majority
- to choose his successor if he dies or retires. Previously, this
would have triggered an election.
Securing this amendment
was one of Mr Mugabe's longstanding ambitions. The MDC has now agreed
to support it in parliament.
Jonathan Moyo, a former
cabinet minister who now sits as an independent opposition MP, said
the reforms would "give Mugabe a new lease of life". He
added: "We don't need 90 new constituencies as we have a dramatically
declining population with people leaving the country and deaths
A scathing commentary
carried on the ZW-News website, which is normally aligned with the
MDC, said: "By failing to put up even ultimately futile arguments
against the Bill in parliament, they have done precisely what the
government desires. They have begun the process - however unwittingly
- of cooperating in their own demise."
"Glaring by its
omission is any mention of the comprehensively rigged voters's roll,
the totally biased electoral apparatus and election courts, and
the various Zanu-PF controlled militias that make any talk of free
and fair elections a sick joke."
The agreement was reached
during talks in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, mediated by President
Thabo Mbeki. The MDC hopes to replace Zimbabwe's current election
commission with an independent body. They also want to agree an
entirely new consitution.
But having conceded these
key changes, the MDC has been left with minimal bargaining power.
Critics say the MDC has
been co-opted into lending legitimacy to Mr Mugabe's regime. The
opposition's key negotiators were Prof Welshman Ncube and Tendai
Biti, who represent both wings of the divided party. Mr Biti has
difficult relations with his superior, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader
of one MDC faction.
These divisions mean
that Mr Mugabe has little to fear from the coming election. Both
factions of the MDC may stand against one another, splitting the
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