AS ZIMBABWE embarks on the constitution-making outreach programme, Zanu PF wants to retain a powerful executive president position as proposed in the Kariba draft constitution, amid reports of intimidation by war veterans and that the party has set up camps mostly in rural areas.
Zanu PF is advocating for the old executive system comprising of a president, two vice presidents and the cabinet and its objective is to defend the controversial Kariba draft, which the MDC-T formation has strongly opposed. The Kariba draft has been endorsed by the politburo, central committee and the war veterans, who traditionally spearhead violent political campaigns on behalf of Zanu PF.
According to its position paper, which has been distributed to its supporters, Zanu PF said: “We need an executive president who shares executive authority with the cabinet and no prime minister as this results in an endless unproductive contest for power between the president and the prime minister that results in a weak state in which neo-colonialism can thrive.”
Zanu PF insiders said this week this would create a major fight with the MDC-T which wants the current imperial presidency dismantled. The two parties would be going head to head trying to win the hearts and minds during the constitutional reform progress.
Zanu PF wants to retain the old system of a powerful executive president who has vast unchecked powers of appointment and dispensing patronage. Mugabe has personally said he preferred the current dominant executive presidency instead of returning to the system of having an executive prime minister like before 1987.
By contrast, MDC-T prefers a system with an elected president who has limited powers and a prime minister with significant power as well – the co-habitation system. It does not want the co-vice-presidents and deputy prime ministers. It is proposing an elected president who appoints a prime minister from a party which commands a majority in parliament. MDC-T wants the cabinet to be chosen by the prime minister.
According to recent press reports, war veteran’s leader Jabulani Sibanda has been forcing villagers, traditional leaders and government workers to attend campaign meetings in parts of Manicaland, ahead of the constitutional outreach programme and telling them to support the Zanu PF position. The villagers, who have attended the meetings have said the message from Sibanda was to campaign for the Kariba draft constitution and that it was a matter of “life or death” for Zanu PF.
The MDC-T has accused Zanu PF of setting up militia bases to intimidate people from speaking during the outreach programme. However, Zanu PF has repeatedly denied this, saying it was untrue.
The MDC-T insists that’s Zanu PF supporters are being instructed to campaign for the Kariba draft and to whip villagers into line in support of the document.
On Wednesday President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara said there should be no violence and intimidation during the constitution-making process.
Mugabe said at the launch of the outreach programme that the main voices during the outreach programmes would be those of the three political parties in the inclusive government. Mugabe said: “Let them be heard (referring to other parties) but at the end of the day, the main voice will be ours because the people have chosen us. Hatingarambi kutonga – nhai va Tsvangirai mungarambe kutonga. (We are the ones in power and we can’t give that away – Tsvangirai would you?).