IGIHE.com \BB Politics
Mugabe and Tsvangirai in Constitution Deal
Published on 18-01-2013 - at 01:08' by IGIHE

Zimbabwe’s rival political leaders say they have reached a deal over a new constitution, removing a key obstacle to holding elections.

The agreement was struck in talks involving President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Tsvangirai said a "long journey" had ended, while Mr Mugabe said he was "glad" that a deal had been reached.

The prime minister had set the adoption of a constitution as a condition for polls due later this year.

Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party entered into a fractious coalition following the 2008 election, which was marred by violence and allegations of vote-rigging.

Details of the deal have not been made public, but it is understood that the powers of the president have been curbed - a key demand of the MDC.

The 88-year-old Mr Mugabe, who is expected to run for another term in office, was in jovial mood when he addressed a news conference with Mr Tsvangirai at his official residence, our reporter adds.

"We are glad to say that we have come to the conclusion of the [constitution-making] exercise and all parties are agreed - sure there are Ts to be crossed and Is to be dotted," Mr Mugabe said.

Mr Tsvangirai said the constitution would be a "social contract" with Zimbabweans.

"This is not about individuals... I’m sure this will be a living document," he said.

Mr Mugabe said the constitution would be put to a referendum.

Election date

Once approved by voters, elections would be held, he said.

Mr Mugabe - in power since since independence in 1980 - is expected to be challenged by Mr Tsvangirai for the presidency.

A source close to the constitution-making process told our reporter that sharp differences over the system of government had also been resolved.

The MDC had argued that Zimbabwe was a highly centralised state, and power should be devolved to lower levels of government.

Zanu-PF had now agreed to the formation of elected provincial legislatures, our correspondent said.

There would also be an executive in each province, headed by an elected chairman.

Agreement had also been reached to overhaul the legal system by creating a constitutional court as the highest of the land.

However, it remained unclear what agreement had been reached on the powers of the army, police and intelligence services - another major sticking point between the parties, our correspondent added.

The MDC had repeatedly accused the security forces of unleashing violence against its supporters during the 2008 election to help Mr Mugabe hold on to power.

Last week, the US-based campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) raised concerns about whether Zimbabwe would make key reforms before the October deadline for elections.

Zimbabwe had failed to reform key laws, like the public order, security and information acts, it said.

HRW said there had been no changes to the justice system "which remains extremely partisan towards Zanu-PF".

The security forces, election bodies and state broadcasters were also politically partisan, remaining loyal to Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF, it added.

NMG

Comments

YOUR OPINION ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

RULES AND REGULATIONS:
Do not post comments that are defamatory, divisive and blasphemous.
If you wish to receive a quick response to your opinion/comments, please provide your email address in the space provided.
Your comments will appear after moderation from IGIHE.com.
In case the above regulations are not observed, your comments might not appear or will be deleted. Thank you!