Zimbabwean lawmakers have finalised a draft constitution that curtails presidential powers and limits terms to 10 years as part of key reforms ahead of elections later in the year.
The proposed document, which will be subject to a referendum, was drafted by legal experts from all the main political parties to a power-sharing government that has been in place since the 2008 elections.
President Robert Mugabe who has been the President of Zimbabwe for 32 years, was forced into the power-sharing deal with arch rival Morgan Tsvangirai after the disputed election result in 2008 and to avoid a descent into civil war.
True to form, Mugabe is trying to get out of the power-sharing deal, by calling for new elections without a new constitution.
However southern African regional leaders have impressed on him at a June summit that elections had to take place under a new constitution.
Key points of the proposed constitution include:
- Limiting to term of office of the president to 10 years
- Requiring the head of state to consult parliament and the cabinet on key appointments.
- Term limits for the executive and independent institutions in the public sector and other state-controlled entities, including the security services.
- Protection for a serving president from prosecution, but the immunity falls away when the president leaves office.
- Compensation for white farmers who were forced off their land under Mugabe’s controversial land reforms and protects the property rights of the new farmers.
- A new national peace and reconciliation commission that would be “encouraging people to tell the truth about the past, facilitating the making of amends.”
The draft constitution will be put to a public conference ain August and then to a referendum at a date yet to be announced.
Robert Mugabe is not going to like this proposal as it will surely end his 32 year presidency. Mugabe has been the only president of Zimbabwe since independence from Great Britain in 1980. However the EU is encouraging the reform process by the resumption of aid and the suspension of most sanctions against Zimbabwe, once a referendum on the new constitution has been organised. The EU will offer to lift sanctions against most of the 112 Zimbabweans still under an EU asset freeze and travel ban decided in 2002, however sanctions against a “small core” of people including Mugabe will remain in place.
There are fresh fears that plans are being laid by Mugabe’s party, the ZANU PF to dismiss the proposed new constitution, in a move that will ensure there are no voting rights for expatriate Zimbabweans. There is still no confirmation about when the draft constitution will be released, but ZANU PF has repeatedly shown resistance to the document.
Robert Mugabe’s party has been advocating for the ‘Kariba Draft‘ constitution, which was a negotiated document made well before COPAC (Constitution Select Committee) was tasked with setting the laws for a new, democratic Zimbabwe.
More than three years and an estimated US$75 million later, the COPAC constitutional draft is believed to be ready for release with a referendum expected later this year. But recent developments in Parliament have left some members of the public questioning if this new charter will ever be allowed to be instituted (by Mugabe).
It is this author’s belief that Mugabe will go to any lengths, or do anything to retain his grab on power. The despotic governmental style in Zimbabwe shows no sign of ending any time soon.
For more information on the activities of the Zimbabwean Constitution Select Committe and their activities, click here.
Then there is the matter of continuing and escalating human rights violations under the Mugabe administration and his party, ZANU-PF.