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Talks, dialogue, negotiations and GNU - Post June 2008 "elections" - Index of articles
up the mess: Alterations required to the proposed Constitutional
and Advocacy Unit, Idasa
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Following the MDC's victory
in the March elections of 2008, and the illegitimate and unrecognised
run-off presidential election of June 2008, under pressure from
SADC, Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to enter into negotiations with ZANU
PF to resolve the political impasse in the country. The negotiations,
Tsvangirai stated in an interview on South Africa's etv, were "not
about power sharing" but "the restoration of democracy
and the return of the rule of law". "No deal"
he declared, "is better than a bad deal". Despite these
declarations, and despite the fact that Mugabe's election had not
been recognised by SADC, MDC-T nonetheless entered into a power-sharing
accord with Mugabe in September 2008.
The key Article
in the September
agreement was Article 20 which set out the structure of a new
government. However, the document had clearly been drafted in haste.
It contained gaps and ambiguities in essential provisions. The gaps
and ambiguities would need to be filled and resolved by reference
to Zimbabwe's existing Constitution.
Since the Constitution centralises and vests an enormous amount
of power in Mugabe, Mugabe's powers remained largely unaffected
by the agreement. This meant a return to democracy, a necessary
condition before the release of western aid, was unlikely.
The MDC however,
had an opportunity to resolve this problem through constitutional
amendment 19. The proposed amendment could be drafted in such
a way as to fill the gaps in the structure of government and to
resolve the ambiguities in a manner which led to a reduction of
Mugabe's power and thus a more equitable power sharing arrangement.
The negotiations over constitutional amendment 19 were thus expected
to be protracted. Instead, presumably once more under pressure from
South Africa, which was concerned about spill over of the cholera
epidemic which had just taken hold in Zimbabwe, the MDC agreed to
the content of constitutional amendment 19 with little debate. The
proposed amendment, in the main, simply provided that Article 20
(dealing with the structure of the new government) be incorporated
into the present constitution wholesale. As a result the gaps and
ambiguities remained and there was little reduction of Mugabe's
powers. Furthermore, the amendment when read with the constitution,
contains several clauses which contradict each other. The document
is not the precise legal document required to amend a constitution,
as parliamentary legal or constitutional committees, if in place,
would be quick to point out.
Mugabe demonstrated that
he remained "in the driver's seat" by unilaterally allocating
ministerial portfolios, appointing provincial governors, the Governor
of the Reserve Bank and the Attorney-General which he can do without
the agreement of the MDC under the September agreement, but not
in terms of the proposed amendment 19. That amendment, of course,
is yet to become law.
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