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delay body blow for Mugabe plan
The Independent (Zimbabwe)
November 03, 2011
may be required to vote in a referendum for a new constitution in
May 2012 effectively derailing President Robert Mugabe's plan
to have elections in the first quarter of next year.
Mugabe is eager
to have elections by March to end the shaky coalition government.
He had initially hoped to have polls this year, but his plan collapsed
due to delays in the constitution-making
process as well as the slow pace in implementing political reforms
required to end the country's decade-long political crisis.
more revised timelines presented to President Jacob Zuma's
facilitation team on Wednesday by Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora
of the MDC-T, a draft constitution is only likely to be ready for
a referendum between March and May next year.
them that there is no way we can have a draft constitution by March
30," Mwonzora told the Zimbabwe Independent soon after meeting
with Zuma's International Relations advisor Lindiwe Zulu and
all things being equal, the draft constitution should be ready between
March and May, but I think we will only be able to go for a referendum
around May 30 next year."
Zulu is said
to have conveyed to Copac Zuma's grave concerns with escalating
political violence engulfing the country. An official who attended
the meeting said: "Zulu told Copac that Zuma was concerned
with the prevailing environment, which is not conducive for free
and fair elections.
She said Zuma's
concern is creating an environment for free and fair elections that
are credible. She also reassured Copac that three people who were
seconded to Jomic (Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee)
will be here in a week or two."
In terms of
Political Agreement signed by the three political parties that
form the coalition government, the adoption of a new constitution
is a pre-requisite for the holding of fresh elections whose outcome
should be credible and acceptable worldwide.
The other essential
elements lining the roadmap to elections include electoral, media
and security sector reforms. Other issues include a new voters'
roll dealing with staffing issues at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
and the disbanding of the Joint Operations Command, a state security
grouping that was reportedly behind the bloody
presidential run-off poll of 2008.
Zuma's team that in spite of the serious financial and logistical
problems facing Copac, they had made significant progress in the
Some of the
achievements made so far he highlighted to the facilitation team
included the selection of the three principal drafters and the seconding
17 members to the drafting team.
drafters are Botswana High Court judge Justice Moses Chinhengo and
lawyers Priscilla Madzonga and Brian Crozier, whom Mwonzora said
had the requisite skills in drafting laws.
the director of legal drafting in the attorney-general's office
making him Zimbabwe's chief legislative drafter until he resigned
in 2000. He also worked as a public prosecutor and legal advisor.
Madzonga is a former High Court judge.
The 17 appointees
comprise five from each of the three political parties and two from
the chiefs' council. These include University of Kent senior
law lecturer Alex Magaisa, Zimbabwe Income and Pricing Commission
chairman Godwills Masimirembwa, University of Zimbabwe political
science lecturer John Makumbe, former Law Society of Zimbabwe president
Joseph James, Women's Affairs and Community Development deputy
minister Jessie Majome, former Matabeleland North governor and lawyer
Jacob Mudenda, Advocate Happias Zhou, Advocate Matshobana Ncube,
lawyer and MDC-T Chief Whip Innocent Gonese, lawyer and former Zimrights
chairperson Kucaca Phulu and Advocate Archibold Gijima, among others.
Copac has also
come up with constitutional principles, a draft framework and a
list of constitutional issues that should be included in the new
charter. Some of the principles agreed on include sovereignty, security
and protection of Zimbabwe from internal and external enemies as
well as transitional provision and economic and social rights.
forces, Copac agreed that "every member of the security forces
and the forces as a whole must perform their duties and exercise
their powers in the national interest and must not further or prejudice
drafting of the new constitution should start on November 20, three
months after it was scheduled to begin. The actual drafting is scheduled
to take 40 days.
the latest timelines, the draft constitution should be presented
to an all-stakeholders' conference by January 30. Donors are
presently not enthused to sponsor such a conference because they
fear that it would be marred by chaos and violence similar to the
first stakeholder gathering held in July 2009.
are unwilling to sponsor the second all-stakeholders conference
because it is likely to be marred by violence," Mwonzora said.
Violence has escalated in the past few weeks around the country.
Most recently, MDC-T and Zanu PF supporters clashed in Hatcliffe
after Zanu PF followers allegedly disrupted an MDC-T meeting where
Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone was scheduled to speak.
week, police armed with AK 47 rifles and baton sticks fired
teargas into Harvest House and indiscriminately beat up people
in the streets before sealing off Nelson Mandela Avenue, First Street,
Angwa Street and Kwame Nkrumah Avenue near the MDC-T headquarters.
at boiling point in the shaky coalition government after police
blocked MDC-T weekend rallies Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had
been lined up to address. The rallies had been sanctioned by the
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