We must re-unite – MDC Veterans

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JOHANNESBURG - The Movement for Democratic Change Veteran Activists Association (MDC VAA), a Johannesburg-based group representing exiled opposition activists, says that its ultimate goal is to re-unite the party's two factions.

The MDC VAA, which was launched last year to provide material and
psychological support to activists, most of whom find themselves
stranded in foreign lands, after fleeing persecution by state security
agents and supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF), says that
without abrogating its main role, it is also committed to seeing the
MDC become a strong force that it was when it was formed in 1999.

"We as activists do not believe in the split, because we know that it
did not come from the grassroots, but the top," said Solomon
Chikohwero, the organisation’s chairman, last week. "As the VAA, we are
focusing on uniting the grassroots first, and then taking a
bottom-to-top approach of re-uniting the party, so that we can
concentrate on one grand goal – that of removing Mugabe and re-building

The organization, which is composed of members of both MDC formations,
also praised the "unifying", but stillborn gesture recently made by the
leader of the party’s mainstream faction – Morgan Tsvangirai, when he
appointed Abednico Bhebhe of the Mutambara formation into his cabinet.

"The President showed all and sundry that he also shares our views that
the party should see beyond the split, which has not benefited us as
the MDC, but Zanu (PF), and we wish that the other faction would have
appreciated that, as it would have given us a starting point towards
that unification," added Chikowero.

Bekithemba Sibanda, the MDC VAA’s Secretary General, said the
organization still believed that the MDC would be united before the
country’s next elections, and vowed that they would work towards that.
Without mentioning names, he attacked some people that he accused of
fanning divisions within the party, which paid the price of the split,
as it was denied what would have been a landslide victory in both the
Presidential and

Parliamentary elections last year, had it still been united.

"We stand for unity within the MDC and whoever shares those values will
get respect and service from us. Those who stand for divisions have no
place in VAA and they cannot stand with us. "To us, the MDC leaders of
1999, who we elected into power, will remain our respected leaders,
until we are sure that they are the one propagating the divisions.

"Both Morgan Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda are still our leaders
because we elected them into power when the party was formed, and we
believe that they are one day going to be re-united to fight one common
enemy – Zanu (PF)," said Sibanda.

Constitution breached by exceeding ministerial quotas

The recent inter-party wrangling has resulted in compromise in the
appointment of ministers that significantly departs from the provisions
of Article 20 of the inter party agreement.

41 Ministers have been appointed instead of the 31 specified in the
agreement, 20 Deputy Ministers have been appointed instead of the 15

The constitutionality/legality of too many appointments is obviously
questionable. The parties seem to have acted on the basis that Article
6, being part of an agreement, can simply be changed by further
agreement between the parties. However, Article 6 is no longer just
part of an agreement.

When Constitution Amendment No. 19 became law on February 13, Article 20

was incorporated into the Constitution in Schedule 8. The notion that a
constitutional provision can be flouted simply by agreement between
political parties goes against all established tenets of constitutional
democracy.  This lays the actions of the inflated government open to
challenge in the High Court or Supreme Court.

An executive excess

The Executive currently numbers 67. In addition to the Ministers and Deputy

Ministers there is the President, two Vice-Presidents, the Prime
Minister and two Deputy Prime Ministers.  This is a large burden for a
small country to bear.

There is a total of 43 cabinet members, 42 of whom are voting members
and the Attorney-General, a non-voting member. In the cabinet there is
the President, two Vice-Presidents, the Prime Minister, two Deputy
Prime Ministers and 36 Ministers.

Unconstitutional size?

The Cabinet consists of four ex officio members and Ministers appointed
by the President. According to the inter party agreement and the
Constitution, there should be 31 Ministers. As 36 have been appointed
this makes five appointees unconstitutional.

It is difficult to ascertain what five members these are, some legal
opinions suggest that, as Deputy Prime Ministers are not specified as
ex officio members of Cabinet, their appointments should come out of
the total 31 Ministers, leaving only 29 Cabinet seats for other
Ministers. This makes seven of the present 36 Cabinet Ministers
unconstitutional. – Veritas

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