Zimbabwe president’s party demands changes to draft constitution, some reforms ‘unacceptable’

August 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

By Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s party won’t accept a
new draft constitution without amendments to reforms seen as undermining its
traditional powers, state media reported Tuesday.

Spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the draft was unacceptable in its present form
and “we cannot commit ourselves to positions which are untenable,’ according
to The Herald newspaper, which is controlled by Mugabe loyalists.

He alleged the draft did not reflect the views of many voters and his party
supporters who were canvassed countrywide and said it contained “alien
ideas” that were not aired at public meetings during an outreach campaign
to gather the people’s contributions, the paper reported.

The ZANU-PF politburo, the party’s top policy making body, is scheduled to
meet Wednesday to finalize objections to the draft that include the proposed
election of ten provincial governors from all parties. Mugabe appointed the
governors in the past. The draft also calls for an independent prosecuting
authority to replace Mugabe appointees in the justice ministry and
parliamentary controls over military and security deployment.

Mugabe has vowed to call elections next year without a rewritten
constitution if no agreement is reached on the 150-page draft.

Under Zimbabwe’s power-sharing coalition brokered by regional leaders, the
proposed constitution must be put to a referendum before fresh elections can
be held. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, has
urged his party to support the draft with a “yes” vote in a referendum
planned before the end of this year.

His party has expressed fears that if the reforms are abandoned there could
be a repeat of the violent and disputed elections in 2008 that led to the
formation of the shaky coalition in 2009. It has accused Mugabe loyalists of
trying to sabotage negotiations on the new draft that ZANU-PF
representatives took part in creating over three years of delays and
bickering.

Veritas, an independent constitutional and legal think tank in Harare, said
Tuesday the former opposition in the coalition with Mugabe insisted the
draft was the result of “hard negotiation” between top representatives
mandated by their party leaders to reach consensus on the draft by the time
it was finally completed last month.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change and a smaller former opposition
party were adamant negotiations were now closed and no new concessions to
ZANU-PF could be entertained, Veritas said.

But Gumbo, the Mugabe party spokesman, said he was confident disputed
passages can be recast “to improve the draft,” add public views and save the
lengthy constitutional process from collapse.

“They want us to agree to something that is unacceptable. We are talking
about a constitution for generations to come. We are sticking to what the
people have said and you will see the difference” in the party’ final
amendments, the Herald quoted Gumbo saying.

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WOZA says too many compromises in constitution ZANU PF dismisses draft constitution after marathon meeting

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