MDC still to decide on Senate


Ray Matikinye

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has not yet decided whether or not to take part in polls for the Senate seats.



ana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Indications are that parliament, after passing the Constitution of Zimbabwe Bill that will enable the setting up of a Senate, will adjourn until October 11 to allow the ruling Zanu PF to select legislators to the Upper House.


MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said his party executive would meet soon to discuss the 22 amendments to the constitution railroaded through parliament with the assistance of 10 unelected chiefs, eight governors and 12 non-constituency MPs.


“Zanu PF is preoccupied with establishing a Senate while ignoring critical national issues that need attention,” said Tsvangirai.

“They seem keen on running the country through rule by law and not rule of law.


“One wonders whether the party thinks it can run the country like a kindergarten centre,” Tsvangirai said.


He said the executive meeting would decide whether to participate in senatorial elections or not.


But observers say the party is not prepared to repeat the mistake that it made by deciding late to participate in general elections after staying out to protest the “uneven playing field”.


According to media reports, the Zanu PF politburo discussed the Senate issue at its weekly meeting in Harare on Wednesday.


The assistance Zanu PF received from chiefs riled rights lobbyists who criticised their participation as undemocratic owing to their status as unelected members.


“It perpetuates a most undemocratic principle that the president can appoint legislators to represent Zimbabwe instead of allowing citizens to exercise their democratic right to do so,” president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Joseph James, said in a statement yesterday.


*Meanwhile, human rights groups plan to take before the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) their challenge to provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (Number 17) Bill which was passed in parliament on Tuesday.


Otto Saki, international lawyer for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said the civic group was preparing its heads of argument for the AHPR as the constitutional amendment passed this week takes away the jurisdiction of local courts.


“We will be taking the matter to the African Commission,” said Saki. “We are in the process of preparing heads of argument. Our greatest concern is that the constitutional amendment takes away the duties of the courts, violates property rights and empowers the government to take away passports.”

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