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Constitutional Amendment 18 of 2007 - Index of articles, opinion and anaylsis
to cut powers
Clemence Manyukwe, Financial Gazette
September 13, 2007
the special index of articles, analysis and opinion on Constitutional
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe
has agreed to shed some of his sweeping powers in talks between
his party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
but at the same time he has begun consolidating his hold on ZANU
PF, ahead of a special congress where he will seek to crush factions
vying to block his candidacy.
The ruling party's supreme
decision-making body - the Politburo - last week decided to call
an extraordinary congress in place of a conference that had been
pencilled for December.
ZANU PF insiders said
the congress will give President Mugabe, who had earlier hinted
at retiring at the expiry of his current term only to change his
mind after the race to succeed him split the ruling party right
through the middle, a chance to finally get official endorsement
as ZANU PF's presidential candidate.
But the decision also
shows that some opposition to his bid remains, despite public endorsements
he has received from the leaders of the Women's League and the Youth
League plus war veterans, chiefs and ZANU PF mayors.
The extraordinary congress
has been called to choose the party's presidential candidate for
elections next year, Vice President Joice Mujuru was quoted as saying
According to ZANU PF
sources, President Mugabe's supporters are now stepping up a campaign
for Mujuru's ouster.
Mujuru and Rural Housing
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are linked to factions jockeying to
succeed the ageing Zimbabwean leader, in power since the country's
independence from Britain in 1980.
Recent public comments
made by senior members of the ZANU PF Women's League, regarded as
critical of Mujuru, are part of a wider strategy to sideline her
ahead of congress, the sources said.
But insiders say although
there are dissenting voices in the ruling party, there is little
chance President Mugabe will face an open challenge at congress.
Unlike the conference,
which had been planned earlier, congress draws huge crowds, particularly
from the boisterous war veterans and the party's youth and women's
leagues, where President Mugabe enjoys strong support.
"There is resistance,
but unless something extraordinary happens, he will be nominated,"
a Politburo member said yesterday.
President Mugabe has,
since the Goromonzi conference last December, shown increasing unease
with the Mujuru faction, which he backed against Mnangagwa at the
In an interview with
state television to mark his birthday in February, the President
criticised what he said was "an insidious dimension (in ZANU
PF) where ambitious leaders have been cutting deals with the British
and Americans", and voiced his opposition to involvement by
his top lieutenants in diamonds.
This was widely seen
as a dig at retired army general Solomon Mujuru, the only one of
his top officials with known interests in diamonds. The retired
general is Vice-President Mujuru's husband.
And at the weekend, Herald
columnist Nathaniel Manheru, who said the congress would need to
"secure its leader", referred to a "British-run faction,
which has been seeking to worm itself to influence. It is a faction,
which is greedy, anti-nation, a bit daft, without structures, but
well heeled and quite white at its core."
President Mugabe's ZANU
PF supporters, Manheru suggested, were moving "relentlessly
to pare down the power claims of this faction."
Supporters of President
Mugabe have cast him as the remaining authentic revolutionary in
the ruling party. Apart from fighting other factions, radical ZANU
PF supporters have sniped at any hints at the need for reform, especially
after comments in South Africa by Simba Makoni the former finance
minister, who merely acknowledged that there was an economic crisis
in the country.
Over recent months, the
women's and youth leagues, chiefs and war veterans have endorsed
the President for the harmonised 2008 elections.
Patrick Chinamasa yesterday tabled the 18th
amendment, but debate on it will only begin on Tuesday.
The Bill will help President
Mugabe manage his succession, but it is the unexpected call for
a special congress that reflects the continuing scheming within
ZANU PF over his future.
Jabulani Sibanda, sacked
as war veterans leader in a row some linked to the succession battle,
is suddenly back in favour, leading a march in President Mugabe's
support two weeks ago.
Sibanda has been linked
to the Mnangagwa camp, although he has denied this in previous comments
to The Financial Gazette.
However, signs that support
among war veterans for President Mugabe, though strong, is not unanimous,
came last week when there were clashes in Masvingo between groups
supporting rival factions of the party.
The Politburo meeting
also discussed and approved changes to the original wording of the
Constitutional Amendment No.18 Bill, changes that will limit President
Mugabe's powers, especially his influence over Parliament.
The changes were agreed
after ZANU PF tabled the Amendment as an agenda item in the talks,
spearheaded by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
A 210-member House of
Assembly will be constituted entirely by elected members, unlike
the previous plan where the President could appoint 10 members.
The President would still
choose governors, three members from interest groups, and have influence
over the appointment of chiefs to an expanded 93-member Senate.
But the lower house would have the power of veto on the upper chamber,
again diluting the influence of his appointees.
The constitutional changes
would also see the Delimitation Commission being abolished, and
its work taken over by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
"We will be going
back to the 20 percent (constituency population) variance factor,
from the current 25 percent, which created huge urban constituencies
and small rural constituencies," a source said.
This arrangement had
the effect of creating more rural constituencies than urban seats.
Since 2000, the Delimitation Commission has controversially increased
seats in rural areas, a ZANU PF stronghold, while seats in the urban
areas, where the MDC draws most of its support, were gradually reduced.
Sources said the ruling
party was also debating excluding Registrar General (R-G) Tobaiwa
Mudede from all involvement in elections. The opposition sees the
R-G as a ZANU PF appointee.
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