New re-election hurdles for Mugabe

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe faces a new re-election hurdle if he insists on his party’s bid to amend the contentious Copac draft constitution during the potentially volatile second all-stakeholders’ conference where the two MDC formations want to push for the inclusion of a presidential candidate age limit, which they say is in the national report that Zanu PF wants presented at the meeting.

Report by Wongai Zhangazha

 
The MDC parties had agreed to drop the clause on age limit during the negotiated drafting process as a compromise, but sources say Zanu PF’s dogged attempts to force through its 266 politburo amendments to the draft and persistent calls for the release of Copac’s national report could bring back those controversial issues.

 
Zanu PF’s revised document conveniently omits issues relating to the presidential age limit, single farm ownership as well as devolution of power which were raised by the people.

 

Devolution is particularly going to cause a fierce battle as the MDC parties insist it must be in the draft. Zanu PF does not want devolution, but decentralisation which is part of the status quo. Mugabe and his party are fighting to restore the constitutional status quo, while reinstating the imperial presidency which has helped them win past elections by hook or crook.

 
According to the Copac national thematic summary analysis and national narrative report seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, ordinary people want the presidential tenure to be limited to two five-year terms and the maximum age limit to be capped at 70 years.

 
Further, the MDC parties would also want to push for the inclusion of a clause barring anyone who has already served 10 years as president from seeking re-election. This was also in the first Copac draft. The age limit would automatically rule out Mugabe, who turns 89 in February 2013, and is serving his 25th consecutive year as president after spending seven years as prime minister.

 
The contentious final Copac draft, to which Zanu PF negotiators appended their signatures alongside their MDC counterparts, curtails Mugabe’s overwhelming powers by dispersing them to other arms of government and state institutions.

 
However, Zanu PF’s amendments restore Mugabe’s sweeping executive powers and expunge devolution entirely from the draft. They also delete many other issues the party does not want.

 
The changes also removed the presidential running mate provision, replacing it with the current system, with the new provision that in the event of the office of president becoming vacant, the replacement would be chosen by the party to which the president belonged and reposes all executive power in the president by scrapping the provision which vests them in the president and cabinet.

 
The Zanu PF draft also restores the current presidential immunity provisions.

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