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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Constitutional Amendment 18 of 2007 - Index of articles, opinion and anaylsis

  • SADC leaders guaranteed Zanu PF would not renege
    The Standard (Zimbabwe)
    September 23, 2007

    Visit the special index of articles, analysis and opinion on Constitutional Amendment 18

    MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says his party endorsed the 18th Amendment after SADC leaders guaranteed Zanu PF would not renege on the ongoing dialogue on a new constitution before the 2008 elections. Tsvangirai told The Standard in an exclusive interview on Friday he was aware sections of Zimbabwean society were unsettled by the move. He said he knew some felt it was a surrender to Zanu PF machinations. But Tsvangirai said history would prove that the two MDC factions had taken a "necessary political risk" to solve the Zimbabwe crisis. Representatives of the MDC in Parliament shocked civic allies, the diplomatic community,and even some of their own rank and file members when they did not oppose the amendment.

    Analysts see the controversial amendment as the latest strategy by President Robert Mugabe to cling to power and ensure a smooth Zanu PF succession after the election. Civic groups, who have rallied behind the MDC in the past, last week suggested they might dump the party for supporting the controversial amendment. But a supremely upbeat Tsvangirai said he was convinced they had taken the right course, with the blessing of SADC leaders. He said they resolved to support the amended version of the 18th amendment after SADC said Zanu PF, which is seeking a rescue package from the regional group, would be bound by the negotiating process, brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki. He said the dialogue would culminate in a signed agreement between Zanu PF and MDC which would result in a new constitution before the 2008 elections. This would render the 18th amendment "academic", he said.

    Beside the constitution, Tsvangirai said he was confident the agreement would see restrictive and harsh laws being scrapped in time for the elections. The negotiators would also work on transitional matters, he said. Asked why they trusted Zanu PF so much that they believed it would allow for a new constitution, ruled as a non-starter by President Mugabe early this year, Tsvangirai said: "I fully understand the history and duplicity of Zanu PF ... This is not just a South African initiative, but a SADC initiative. Both MDC and Zanu PF recognise that." He added: "SADC will guarantee that no-one is going to walk away from negotiations. Why should we doubt SADC when we are committed to the negotiations taking place?" said Tsvangirai, adding the MDC supported the amended 18th Amendment as a confidence-building measure.

    He said if Zanu PF abandoned the process, they would not take part in the elections. "We want to go in an election which we have full confidence in, not anything else. We can't get into an election whose outcome is predetermined," he said. The opposition leader confirmed the two MDC factions were negotiating with Zanu PF as a united front but said this did not mean they would contest the 2008 elections as one. "It's MDC as one team but as far as elections are concerned, that is a political decision that will be decided down the road," he said. Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the other faction of the MDC could not be reached for comment. He was said to be out of the country.

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