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to amend Posa
Constantine Chimakure, Zimbabwe Independent
September 14, 2007
ZANU PF has agreed to
give in to most of the demands made by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change during the ongoing talks being mediated by South
African President Thabo Mbeki, amid revelations that its negotiating
team has made many significant concessions.
the changes which have been agreed is amendment of the notorious
Order and Security Act and the enactment of new electoral laws.
Zanu PF has also agreed with MDC negotiators to alter Constitutional
Amendment No 18.
the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Zanu PF had agreed to changes
to Posa and the abrogation of the current Electoral
Act to facilitate a smooth passage of the constitutional amendment
through parliament. The two rival MDC factions have been calling
for a new constitution but they have now agreed on three far-reaching
changes to the draft.
Zanu PF chief negotiator,
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, told a round of the talks in
Pretoria on September 1 and 2 that the ruling party would play ball
with the MDC to create an environment for free and fair elections
The sources said Chinamasa
stunned the MDC delegation, made up of secretary-generals Welshman
Ncube and Tendai Biti, when he revealed that Zanu PF was ready to
accept the MDC's demands. "Tell us what you want and we will
do our best to oblige," was his approach, the sources said.
They said it was during
this meeting that Zanu PF and the MDC agreed on reforms to the electoral
process to be incorporated into Constitutional Amendment No18, which
was tabled in parliament on Wednesday.
The ruling party agreed
on a raft of changes to create an environment for free and fair
On September 5, the Zanu
PF politburo discussed and adopted measures that were agreed in
Pretoria. Yesterday, the Arthur Mutambara-led formation of the MDC
met in Harare and its national council adopted the proposed amendments
to the Bill. The Morgan Tsvangirai camp is yet to meet and ratify
the changes although observers believe there is little for them
left to object to.
Zanu PF and the MDC agreed
that the issue of a new constitution was no longer a priority considering
the time left before the elections.
Both parties resolved
to abolish the appointment of 10 MPs to the House of Assembly by
the president, meaning that all the proposed 210 Lower House lawmakers
would have to be directly elected. The senate would now be composed
of 93 members, up from the proposed 84. Of the 93, only five would
be presidential appointees - two representing Harare and Bulawayo
while the outstanding three would represent special interest groups.
Currently the senate
is made up of 66 members. Provincial governors and traditional chiefs
would also be appointed to the senate.
The parties have also
agreed that all the three elections - local government, presidential
and parliamentary, will be held concurrently on one day.
The sources said the
negotiating teams clinched a deal that another amendment be made
to the Bill to clearly state that constituency delimitation variation
should be restricted to 20%, instead of allowing movements of up
to 25%, to avoid gerrymandering.
The agreed amendments
to the Bill would be tabled during the committee stage in parliament
The MDC proposed amendments
to the Electoral Act which the negotiators agreed was a "mess".
They accepted the need to craft a new law altogether.
The parties were reportedly
working on drafts of the new electoral law, which they will deliberate
Perhaps the most far-reaching
aspect agreed to during the discussions is the proposed amendment
to the draconian Posa. The aim will be to remove sections that inhibit
public gathering without police notification and canvassing for
Two years ago this paper
quoted Chinamasa declaring that Posa would not be amended since
it was an important bulwark against those who wanted to effect regime
change. The government has since 2000 used Posa to break up opposition
rallies and to prevent political meetings organised by civic groups.
Two other major
items on the talks agenda - media laws and the political climate
in the country - are yet to be discussed even though indications
were that the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act could also be amended
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