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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Constitutional Amendment 18 of 2007 - Index of articles, opinion and anaylsis
48 Number 19
September 21, 2007
the special index of articles, analysis and opinion on Constitutional
deal in parliament between the government and the opposition parties
over constitutional changes shows the desperation on all sides,
after five months of stagnation in the South African-mediated talks
on political reform. It also opens up the prospect of a more coordinated
strategy among all those groups opposed to President Robert Mugabe's
attempts to stand for another term as executive president in elections
scheduled for next March.
follows talks between South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and the
leaders of the two rival factions of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, on 15
September. Both Tsvangirai and Mutambara, who last met Mbeki in
March, emerged encouraged. Until then South Africa's Safety and
Security Minister Sydney Mufamadi was mediating the talks between
Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti for the MDC factions and Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa and former Intelligence Chief Nicholas
Goche for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
Mbeki, we hear,
told Tsvangirai and Mutambara that ZANU-PF was prepared to amend
radically the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA, which dates back to the Ian Smith regime),
as well as to work with the MDC to draw up a new electoral law,
which would allow parliament instead of the president to nominate
members to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The POSA amendment
would permit all parties to hold public rallies without prior notification
to the police and to canvass support without obstruction from the
The agreed changes will
increase the number of MPs in the Assembly, from 150 to 210 seats,
and in the Senate, from 60 to 93 seats. The MPs in the Assembly
will all be elected, while the president's power to appoint MPs
will be abolished. The president will retain power to appoint provincial
governors and influence over the appointment of chiefs to the Senate,
but the Assembly will have the power to overrule the Senate.
The new rules will also
abolish the Delimitation Commission. It has redrawn constituency
boundaries to the huge advantage of ZANU-PF, which wants more constituencies
in its rural heartlands and fewer in the towns that are the MDC's
strongholds. The work of the Delimitation Commission will be taken
over by the ZEC.
The changes will also
allow parliament to choose the next president, should the incumbent
die or be incapacitated. Mugabe's supporters offered this provision
as proof that their man, 85 next year, intends to win a final term
and then retire gracefully. Few believe this, so it makes little
difference to the political calculus.
have no illusions about the lack of change on the ground, where
ZANU-PF has recruited some 10,000 youths for its highly trained
and relatively well paid 'green bombers' unit to deliver the votes
and deal (usually violently) with opposition supporters.
Yet committed reformers
such as Trevor Ncube urge activists to seize the day. Ncube, publisher
of The Independent and Standard in Harare and the Mail & Guardian
in South Africa, argues that opposition groups should form a coalition
to exploit growing divisions in ZANU-PF over the succession. The
ZANU-PF politburo's decision to call a special congress in December
is significant, Ncube said this week at London's International Institute
of Security Studies.
The ZANU-PF faction led
by General Solomon Mujuru is to make a strong bid to get Mugabe
to stand down or at least to accept the role of titular President,
while the bulk of his powers are transferred to an executive prime
minister. Ranged against Mujuru is the rejuvenated alliance between
Mugabe and former Security Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, thrown together
partly by a mutual fear of prosecution for massacres in the 1980s.
Ncube recommended that
Western states both back the South African mediation efforts and
reengage with the Mugabe government. Britain and the European Union
are backing Mbeki, but reengagement with Mugabe still divides the
Europeans. Portugal is to invite Mugabe to the European Union-African
Union summit in Lisbon in December. Britain's new Prime Minister
Gordon Brown is sticking to his predecessor's line: if Mugabe is
invited, Brown will not attend the summit.
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