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Mugabe wants deadlock on draft constitution

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF are dithering on endorsing the proposed new draft constitution for the country as they are plotting to declare a deadlock in order to force elections using the old constitution, senior party officials have said.
Going for elections under the current constitution gives Mu-gabe, who has been in power for the past three decades, an unfair advantage over his political foes.
The two MDCs are adamant the proposed new supreme law for the country would not be renegotiated as the parties were already campaigning for a “Yes” vote in a referendum.
The Zanu PF Politburo on Wed-nesday met for the third time in two weeks, but again failed to come up with a position on the proposed draft.

Sources said Mangwana was last week instructed to among many other things, come up with acceptable transitional mechanisms in the draft and finalise the criteria on the appointment of provincial governors before the politburo’s fourth meeting scheduled for  this Wednesday.

“Many Politburo members expressed discomfort with the issue of running mates and the watered-down presidential powers,” said a Politburo member. “Others are uneasy with the proposal to take away prosecuting powers from the Attorney General by creating an independent national prosecuting authority as they feel that this is meant to neutralise (AG Johannes) Tomana because he is known to be sympathetic to us.”

He said if the two MDCs refuse to go back to the negotiating table, Zanu PF was prepared to declare a deadlock.
“If a deadlock is declared, the GPA stipulates that elections have to be held under the current constitution and this is what some members are pushing for,” said the politburo member.
Another senior Zanu PF official said the two MDCs were playing into the hands of Zanu PF and in the event of a deadlock; there was hardly anything Sadc could do.

“The draft is a negotiated document. There is no clause in the GPA which stops political parties from renegotiating even previously agreed position,” he said. “There is a strong argument by some that the party which wins the next elections is the one which must take the draft to the people. All things being equal, elections must be held in March next year.”
The official said the politburo decision to reassign and incorporate members of the disbanded District Coordinating Committee (DCCs) was a strategy meant to quell disgruntlement within the party ahead of elections.

“In a way these former DCC members are being made to believe that they are back in the fold, but in reality they are still out in the cold,” he said. “There were fears that some of them were going to defect hence all sorts of promises are being made to them. The party is looking at the bigger picture which is elections and a constitution which is in its favour.”
Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said the two MDCs had no option but to renegotiate with the party on several undisclosed issues.

“If they want us to agree to a new constitution, then they have to come back to the negotiating table,” he said. “As for a deadlock, we will cross the bridge when we get there.”
However, MDC-T secretary general, Tendai Biti said there was no way negotiations would be re-opened, arguing that the draft was a compromise document agreed by Copac and negotiators from all the three parties in the coalition government.

The party’s national council met on Friday to endorse the draft and also resolved to campaign for a “Yes” vote in the referendum.
“That document should now be put before the people who should decide its legitimacy and correctness,” Biti said. “Any individual or political party who thinks we should re-open debate around provisions in the draft should respect their negotiators who appended their signatures to the document, he said.”





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