Change to draft constitution ensures Mugabe can seek re-election

A simple alteration in the draft constitution will ensure that the ageing and long serving Robert Mugabe will be able to seek re-election in the next election, most likely in 2013.

Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe

Political commentator Blessing Vava told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the change confirms fears raised by civil society organisations that a final draft of the constitution will be a negotiated document.

‘We have always said the new constitution will be a negotiated document because political parties are fighting for their own positions and agendas to be included in the new charter. All they want is to safeguard their interests,’ Vava said.

The three parties to the Global Political Agreement have so far reviewed six chapters out of 18 contained in the draft constitution, including the much talked about clause on the executive president.

Chapter 6.4.2 stated that a person is disqualified for election as President if he or she has already held office as President for one or more periods, whether continuous or not, amounting to ten years.

The state media has been gloating this week that ZANU PF in COPAC managed to remove that clause from the draft. However in an interview on Tuesday COPAC’s MDC-T co-chairman, Douglas Mwonzora, said the reports were not strictly correct.

‘We did not remove anything from the draft. What we actually did was to add three words to that clause. The three words added are ‘under this constitution,’ Mwonzora said. He explained that people had ‘misinterpreted’ the clause as it did not seek to bar the current incumbents.

Vava said what it means is that Mugabe is free to stand as a candidate under a new constitution.

‘What this tells us is that the two term limit will only begin to be operational in terms of the new constitution and not the old one. This is why they made it clearer when they added the words (under this constitution). Remember the current constitution that we inherited at independence does not have term limits,’ Vava added.

Meanwhile the MDC-T has said they will push for the implementation of critical reforms before going for elections, in order to guarantee free and fair elections, the party’s national chairperson said on Thursday.

Lovemore Moyo said before the elections are held, his party would first ensure that there is an enactment of a new constitution, a new voters’ roll, plus legislative, electoral and media reforms.

‘Zimbabwe also needs to comply with SADC electoral guidelines on free and fair elections and put in place mechanisms to make sure that violence will not be a factor in the next elections,’ Moyo said during a workshop for provincial party leaders in Harare.

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