IN its bid to retain its political advantage over other parties ahead of elections next year, Zanu PF has restored President Robert Mugabe’s sweeping powers curtailed in the latest Copac draft constitution by coming with amendments that restore the imperial presidency.
Report by Brian Chitemba
The draft constitution curtails presidential powers by distributing some of the president’s executive powers to cabinet and parliament. But Zanu PF came up with another raft of amendments to restore the authoritarian executive presidency.
The imperial powers enjoyed by Mugabe as enshrined in the current constitution are cited as the major reason why the 88-year old ruler has managed to cling to power for 32 years.
According to Zanu PF’s proposed amendments seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, the politburo which met five times in three weeks agreed to retain clauses and chapters in the current constitution in the Copac draft including Section 5.2(2) which says: “The president takes precedence over all other persons in Zimbabwe.”
The Zanu PF amendments restore Mugabe’s sweeping executive powers and eradicate devolution entirely from the draft by deleting all references to dispersal of executive authority.
The changes expunge the presidential running mate provisions and replace them with the current system with the new provision that in the event of the office of president becoming vacant, the replacement will be chosen by the party to which the president belongs and reposes all executive authority in the president by scrapping the provision which vests it in the president and cabinet.
The changes effectively reconstitute the imperial presidency by restoring virtually all the current presidential powers and even add a new provision that cabinet can only exercise authority under the direction of the president. They also restore the current presidential immunity provisions.
Zanu PF hawks further shredded the Copac draft to retain the president’s power to appoint two vice-presidents as provided in the current constitution, among other powers of appointment.
The new draft constitution stipulates the president and vice-presidents should be jointly elected but Zanu PF proposes that after assuming office, the president appoints his deputies drawn from MPs.
On succession in the event of death or resignation of the president, Zanu PF wants the provision of the current constitution to prevail where the vice-president who last acted as president takes over, whereas the Copac draft says the first vice-president should take over while the second vice president will be elevated as the first VP.
When the president is absent from the country, Zanu PF wants the VP who last acted as president or VP designated by the president to assume office, but the new draft says the first vice-president acts as president.
The Copac draft provides that the president can only dissolve parliament if the Senate and the National Assembly pass a resolution to dissolve it.
Zanu PF seeks an amendment to give the president power to dissolve parliament without a resolution by legislators in line with the current constitution.
As in the current constitution, Zanu PF proposed that the draft provides for presidential powers to declare war without any constraint.
The president’s powers of appointment, including hiring governors, have been restored.