HomePolitics‘PM to tackle crucial reforms before polls’

Civil Society Launches Constitution Outreach

Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka confirmed the prime minister would touch on issues embracing the ongoing squabbles over the drafting of a new constitution, the standoff over the unilateral reappointment of service chiefs by President Robert Mugabe, the stalled Government Works Programme, the dysfunctional Council of Ministers and his recent tour of the Chiadzwa diamond fields, among a host of issues.

Mugabe recently angered his partners in the coalition government when he renewed the contract of police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri without consulting Tsvangirai as stipulated in the Global Political Agreement (GPA). The GPA requires that senior appointments be made in consultation between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Drafting of the country’s new constitution has been riddled with confusion, controversy and even some comic scenes, with the three main political players leading the constitution-making processpublicly wrangling over issues to be included in the document.

Mugabe and senior Zanu PF officials have accused the principal drafters of being biased against their party and demanded that the entire process be abandoned and elections held under the current constitution.This followed clashes over the structure of the executive, dual citizenship, gay rights, devolution, and the national prosecuting authority.

 

There is also a storm raging over proposals for a maximum presidential age limit. The proposed age limit is 70 years, and its inclusion would effectively bar Mugabe from contesting the next polls as he turned 88 on Tuesday.

 

There is also wrangling over the wording of the two-term limit which some say bars Mugabe from standing, although lawyers say it does not.

Zanu PF says it will never allow these clauses to be included in the draft constitution. Tsvangirai and the MDC formations are of the view that holding elections without addressing the root causes of the country’s political paralysis risks creating a deeper crisis, but Zanu PF has threatened not to cooperate any further in the drafting process saying the people’s input captured during the outreach programme had been completely ignored. Mugabe and his party are thus now pushing for elections with or without a new constitution.

However, the two MDC parties maintain that the sudden push for elections with or without a new constitution or tangible reforms would be clear repudiation of the GPA and of theSadc and AU leaders.

Laws that the MDC parties want amended before they can entertain any talk of elections include Posa, Aippa, the Police Act and the Public Health and Health Services Act as well as the introduction of a new statute to regulate operations of the Central Intelligence Organisation. They also want media and security sector reforms to remove the public media from control by the ruling party and for thestate security forces to stop acting in a partisan way in support of Mugabe and Zanu PF.

The MDC parties also want the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to recruit new staff before the elections, while a new voters’ roll must be compiled.

The Government Works Programme has proved to be a major headache for the coalition government with only a fraction being implemented by the end of 2011 due to lack of capacity as most professionals have sought economic refuge outside the country. Tsvangirai is likely to unveil a new way forward since this programme is crucial to the rehabilitation of the country’s dilapidated infrastructure.

Tsvangirai believes that failure of the GWP largely emanates from lack of commitment and the failure of the government to implement its programme.

 

–– Staff Writer.

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