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Hardliners want constitution stalemate

The proposed constitution, they said, is “too meticulous and democratic for Zanu PF”, a party accused of holding on to power for the past three decades through intimidation, outright violence and electoral chicanery.

Hardliners believe the passing of the proposed draft constitution into the supreme law marks the end of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s rule. But the 88-year-old leader is singing a different tune.

He told mourners at the burial of Edson Ncube at the National Heroes’ Acre last week that: “We are looking forward to have an election on the basis of a constitution.”
But the sources said Zanu PF hardliners would have none of that.

“There is no way Zanu PF hardliners will allow this proposed constitution to see the light of day,” said one source.  “They would rather declare a stalemate and force elections under the Lancaster Constitution or extend the tenure of the coalition government to allow themselves time  to re-strategise.”

Even most Zanu PF MPs do not want elections this year before finishing their terms in 2013. Those pushing for elections are mostly officials outside the coalition government who see the posts occupied by the MDC formation officials as theirs.

Former Information minister, Jonathan Moyo, believed to be working closely with the securocrats, has already described the constitution-making process as a fraud which must not be taken to a referendum.

He has also described a team of drafters known as the constitution select committee (Copac) “mafia”.  Another Zanu PF sympathiser, Tafataona Mahoso, has also written deriding the constitution-making process.

Moyo claimed the proposed constitution targeted Mugabe, central bank Governor Gideon Gono, Commander of the Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga and Commissioner General of Police Augustine Chihuri in what analysts said were attempts to whip up emotions of the security chiefs and other Zanu PF hardliners.

 

Why the new constitution is less appealing to Zanu Pf

 

The new constitution severely reduces the president’s powers to the extent that he would, in many of the critical issues, have to consult parliament or commissions before taking decisions of national interest.

Rising calls for devolution also send waves of shock down Zanu PF’s spine as authority would be taken away from the central government to the regions, severely limiting the influence of the former ruling party, which has for years used a centralised command-and-control political system to maintain an iron grip on power.

Under the new constitution, the President would no longer appoint service chiefs but this would be done by a service commission. The service chiefs, who have publicly declared that they would not salute anyone without liberation war credentials, are believed to be the power behind Mugabe’s protracted rule.

The parties have also failed to agree on issues such as land, dual citizenship and war veterans.

 

‘New constitution too democratic for Zanu PF’

 

University of Zimbabwe lecturer John Makumbe said Zanu PF would use anything at their disposal to ensure the new constitution does not see the light of day. He said Zanu PF hardliners would continue to put a spanner in the works to make sure that there is a political deadlock because they see a new democratic constitution as their end.

“It’s too good. It is too democratic for Zanu PF’s liking,” said Makumbe, a known MDC-T sympathiser. “It includes a justice, truth and reconciliation commission which those in Zanu PF detest most because of the skeletons they have in their closets.”

Another University of Zimbabwe political scientist Shakespeare Hamauswa concurred, noting that Zanu PF would not agree to let the new constitution prevail. But Sadc would be Zanu PF’s nemesis as the body will continue to push for reforms, said Hamauswa. This could mean a continuation of the GNU for some time, he said.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said his party wanted the new constitution completed as soon as possible to enable the holding of elections. “We want this constitution-making process to be completed very soon so that we can hold election,” said Gumbo. “In other countries this process takes very little time.”

He denied that Zanu PF hardliners wanted to declare a stalemate to force elections under the old constitution which favours Mugabe. Gumbo said comments by people like Moyo and Mahoso in the State media were their personal views not shared by the whole party.

“Those are academics,” said Gumbo. “The academics are free to express their opinions. It does not mean these are the views of the party.” MDC-T deputy spokesperson Tabitha Khumalo said Zanu PF does not want a new constitution because it was afraid of losing elections. An extension of GNU was not the answer to Zimbabwe’s problems but a free and fair election.

“There could be an extension of the GNU but that is not what Zimbabweans want,” said Khumalo. “People must demand a democratic dispensation. We need a unity of purpose.”

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