HomePoliticsZanu PF revives constitutional debate

Zanu PF revives constitutional debate

Dumisani Muleya

ZANU PF, which ruled out a new constitution after its defeat in a referendum three years ago, is said to be trying to revive the issue during talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic

Change (MDC) to accelerate the resolution of the current crisis.

Diplomatic sources said Zanu PF wants to introduce the issue during talks expected to resume soon and propose a new constitutional project to be passed through parliament.

The sources said the ruling party wants new constitutional provisions instead of an interim document to facilitate any transition because it is anxious to secure immunity guarantees for President Robert Mugabe to protect him from charges of human rights abuses.

It is understood the MDC wants limited constitutional reform to facilitate the creation of an independent electoral commission that would run elections under an interim constitution with a transitional authority supervising the process.

The new or revised constitution that Zanu PF wants would combine elements of both the rejected government-sponsored draft and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)’s proposals.

The two existing drafts are fundamentally divergent in their proposed system of government, although they have similarities in other areas.

The official document proffers a French-style co-habitation system of an executive president and a prime minister, while the NCA suggests a Westminster model of a powerful prime minister and a titular head of state.

Sources said Zanu PF legal technocrats are busy trying to distill the two drafts to come up with a consolidated document that would be debated in parliament.

Reports of a revived Zanu PF-engineered constitutional agenda came as it emerged yesterday that MDC officials recently met Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) veterans to sharpen their negotiating skills in preparation for the resumption of the collapsed talks with Zanu PF (See Headlines)

The South Africans suggested a transitional constitution as the best route out of the current quagmire.

Mediators at Codesa – the process that led to a democratic dispensation in South Africa – told the MDC leaders that although problems like these in Zimbabwe are better resolved politically, there was need for durable and legal mechanisms to underpin agreements and political solutions.

There is now a new impetus towards a negotiated political settlement. Zanu PF and the MDC have been in direct informal talks for sometime now to clear contested issued before talks officially resume.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who recently secured American support for his “quiet diplomacy”, and local church leaders are actively involved in trying to broker dialogue.

When a new constitutional dispensation is secured, sources said, that could be the most practical way to ease Mugabe out of power and pave way for new elections.

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