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ploy to scuttle SADC initiatives on Zim crisis
July 17, 2007
of the Constitution
of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 18) Bill has been described as a
ploy to undermine efforts by the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis.
society activist, Morrison Sifelani, said this at a meeting held
at Gweru Press Club recently. The meeting was convened under MISA-Zimbabwe's
press club debating sessions to discuss the role of civic society
in the South African mediated talks currently underway between the
opposition MDC and ruling Zanu PF and the implications of the Constitution
of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.18) Bill.
Sifelani, who was introduced
as representing civic society in the Midlands town, said civic society
was supportive of the mediation process to resolve the Zimbabwean
socio-economic and political crisis.
While Zimbabweans were
capable of dealing with their own problems, Sifelani was, however,
skeptical on their ability to striking lasting solutions to the
crisis on their own without the involvement of a third party hence
his support for the SADC Initiatives.
On the Constitutional
Amendment (No) 18, he was of the view that this would not go the
mile and urged Zimbabwean citizens to rally behind the mediation
process as representative of the interests of the people.
Speaking at the same
event, a representative of the MDC, Lyison Mlambo, stressed that
the two MDC factions felt no obligation to include civic society
in the mediation process. He said that decision would have to come
from President Mbeki himself but that the opposition would not pressure
him to accommodate civic society organisations.
He also drew participants'
attention to an article in the Mail and Guardian of South Africa
which quoted Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa
saying that ZANU (PF) was only involved in the talks out of respect
for SADC. Mlambo said this illustrated the lack of seriousness on
Zanu PF's part.
Mlambo criticised provisions
in the Bill which he said give the President power to appoint non-constituent
Senators and Members of the House of Assembly.
"No one should
aspire to be a lawmaker without subjecting themselves to the (will
of) electorate" he said.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe
Amendment (No. 18) Bill, which seeks to harmonise Presidential and
Parliamentary elections, was gazetted on 8 June 2007. The Bill recommends
five changes to the current constitution, including the shortening
of the term of office of the President to five years from six, so
that it runs concurrently with that of parliamentarians.
The Bill also allows
for expansion of the Houses of Senate and Assembly from 66 to 84
and 150 to 200 respectively. Presidential appointees, consequently,
increase from 16 to 34. A Human Rights Commission, an idea which
has been on the cards for almost a year now, will be established
by the Bill. The Bill is still to be presented to Parliament.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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