Zim constitution chaos
The constitution-making process in Zimbabwe has been thrown into disarray after both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change vowed to reject fresh demands by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF.
During President Jacob Zuma's visit to the country last week it was noted that only minor glitches were stalling the exercise and the coalition partners were expected to work tirelessly to iron out their differences.
But, at the weekend, Zanu-PF submitted to the Maputo SADC summit meeting a draft constitution that restores presidential powers and reneges on some of the draft charter's most important provisions.
The draft constitution, already accepted by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC and its breakaway party, would rein in presidential powers while bolstering those of parliament.
It would also set down a presidential term limit of 10 years and remove the president's immunity from prosecution after he has left office.
"The demands by Zanu-PF will mean that we would end up with a constitution worse than the current one. We don't accept this kind of situation," the MDC's Douglas Mwonzora said.
Welshman Ncube, leader of the MDC breakaway, described the demands as counterproductive and aimed at robbing the people of Zimbabwe of their right to free and fair elections.
Zuma's mediating team is fast running out of time now that the SADC has resolved that Zimbabwe should hold elections within 12 months after putting in place electoral reforms, chief among them being a new constitution.
But Zuma's special adviser on foreign affairs, Lindiwe Zulu, said yesterday that her team would meet the feuding parties in Zimbabwe next week to help speed up the reforms.
The MDC said yesterday that a new opinion poll reflecting a surge in support for Zanu-PF was skewed by a "margin of terror". Nearly half of those questioned refusing to disclose their political loyalties.
Mwonzora said yesterday that the poll by US-based Freedom House was "unreliable" because voters were intimidated by Mugabe's militants.
Freedom House's 54-page report said support for Zanu-PF rose to 31% from 17% in the past 18 months, but dropped for Tsvangirai's party from 38% to 20%. - Additional reporting bySapa-AFP, AP