[DEBATE] : Re: [Africa soc.mvts.] ZIMBABWE: Civ.soc. v MDC & ZCTU stayaway
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Sep 22 09:02:00 BST 2007
(Oops, left out all the anti-'Muzorewisation' info, and the SA subimperial gambit.)
Civic groups accuse MDC of treachery
By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri
HARARE - An alliance of Zimbabwe non-governmental organizations (NGO) has accused the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party of treachery after it endorsed a governmental constitutional reform bill that paves the way for President Robert Mugabe to anoint his successor.
In a sign of growing divisions between the MDC and its key civic allies over the constitutional Bill, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) accused the opposition party of cutting deals in Parliament with the government in total disregard of ordinary citizens who it said were clamouring for an "open and genuine process of democratisation."
The NCA is a coalition of churches, women's groups, opposition parties, students and workers founded in 1997 and from which the MDC was born two years later.
The NCA, which together with the MDC mobilised voters to reject a government constitutional draft in a 2000 referendum campaigns for a new and people driven constitution for Zimbabwe.
"The MDC's decision to abandon the principle of a people-driven constitution and opting for a process driven by political parties in Parliament is an act of treachery," the NCA said in a statement to be flighted in newspapers beginning today.
"Both (MDC) formations seem to be out of touch with the aspirations of ordinary Zimbabweans who are clamouring for an open and genuine process of democratisation.
"Only a genuine and people driven-driven process will bring the much-needed transformation of our society," said the statement signed by coalition chairman Lovemore Madhuku.
The MDC, which though split into two rival camps has acted together in dealings with Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, said in Parliament on Tuesday that it was backing the government constitutional to help create conditions conducive to the peaceful resolution of the country's crisis.
Welshman Ncube, secretary general of one of the MDC factions, rejected the NCA's criticism and insisted the opposition party had endorsed the constitutional reform Bill in the greater interests of resolving Zimbabwe's worsening political and economic crisis.
He said: "Our first and sole responsibility is to seek a solution to the current political and economic crisis under which people are suffering. Hence, our supporting the changed Bill."
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 18 Bill will see constituency boundaries changed, parliamentary elections brought forward by two years while Parliament - which Mugabe controls - will be empowered to elect a new president should the incumbent fail to serve a full term.
Analysts see the clause empowering Parliament to elect a new president as an exit mechanism allowing Mugabe, 83, to quit active politics, handpick a successor and possibly rule from the sidelines.
The MDC had pushed for an entirely new constitution that would guarantee basic freedoms and free elections but relented after Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa agreed to changes that watered down the amendment Bill.
The changes included abolishing the president's power to appoint members to the lower house of parliament, which will have 210 members compared to the current 150, and a further expansion of the upper house to 93 members from 84, with five appointees. - ZimOnline
SA Cabinet welcomes ZANU PF, MDC deal
Thursday 20 September 2007
JOHANNESBURG - The South African Cabinet says it welcomes agreement in the Zimbabwean Parliament that saw the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party supporting a controversial Bill that will allow President Robert Mugabe to choose his successor.
In a statement to the media on Thursday, Baby Tyawa, the government's communications deputy head, said the agreement was a major step forward in addressing the eight-year crisis in Zimbabwe.
President Thabo Mbeki has since last March been leading a Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative to push for a solution between President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and the MDC.
"South Africa wishes to congratulate the Zimbabwean political leadership for this major step forward in addressing the challenges facing that country.
"Proceeding from the premise that the people of Zimbabwe are the ones best placed to find solutions to the challenges they face, we will continue to assist where we can, in line with the mandate of SADC to ensure that these processes result in a lasting settlement," said Tyawa.
The MDC on Tuesday supported the controversial Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 18 that analysts said Mugabe wanted to use to deal with the contentious issue of his own succession. The opposition party said it would not seek to block the Bill in the spirit of the Mbeki-led talks.
Under the redrafted Bill, Mugabe will no longer be allowed to handpick members of the lower House of Parliament which will also see Parliament being expanded to 210 members from 120 members, all directly elected by voters.
The new law will however allow Mugabe to appoint 16 chiefs and 10 provincial governors to the Senate that will be increased from the current 66 to 93 members.
Zimbabwean civic groups have however reacted angrily to the MDC's backing of the Bill describing the move as "treachery" on the part of the opposition party. The civic groups have been pushing for a new, democratic constitution for Zimbabwe before next year's elections. - ZimOnline
'The great betrayal'
Thu, 20 Sep 2007 00:35:00
HARARE - Civic groups have rounded on both the Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai-led factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), charging they have been poisoned with the Zanu (PF) chalice and drugged into bulldozing the "stupid" Constitutional Amendment No 18.
"It's a great betrayal of the people of Zimbabwe," said Fambai Ngirande, spokesman of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, an umbrella body coordinating all NGOs in Zimbabwe. "There was no citizen participation whatsoever in the formulation of that amendment."
Ngirande said the two MDC formations had betrayed Zimbabweans by abandoning the principled stand to reject anything that is short of a new home-grown constitution.
"People are tired of these amendments," said Ngirande. "They want a new constitution, period!"
Ngirande was speaking to ZimDaily at the sidelines of the ongoing NGO Expo that opened in Harare Wednesday.
The expo, which is now in its 45th year, is set to hold a conference that would create a platform for policy debates such as the Constitutional Amendment No 18, which the MDC has hurriedly acceded to without due consideration of what Zimbabweans want, said Ngirande.
The two MDCs - which have been negotiating with Zanu (PF) in inter-party talks being coordinated by SA President Thabo Mbeki - left civic society and NGOs aghast on Tuesday after indicating they were no longer opposing the constitutional amendment, which seeks to expand the size of parliament and allow Mugabe to choose a successor.
The two MDCs separately claimed they had been seduced by concessions made by Zanu (PF) such as that of taking away Mugabe's power of appointing a quarter of the number of MPs in Parliament. Mugabe reportedly agreed to also water down the draconian security law, the Public Order and Security Act that compels opposition parties to seek police clearance before holding rally.
In an address to Parliament on Tuesday, Tsvangirai's deputy Thokozane Khupe said her MDC wing remained committed to the principle of a new people driven constitution and a transparent and open process.
"Our friends and constituencies out there must know that we will never betray this principle; however we are alive to the ongoing discussions and the progress that has been made so far," Khupe said in pointed remarks at the ongoing mediation. "It is in this regard, that as a confidence building mea sure we take the bold decision of not standing in the way of Constitution Amendment No. 18 as amended by the negotiating teams.
In making this decision we are in no way abandoning any of our principles or are we betraying any cause, all we are saying is that at this point in our history the country is crying out for bold and decisive leadership and not populist grandstanding."
Leading human rights lawyer Arnold Tsunga told ZimDaily that the two MDCs had "buckled and capitulated under the weight of the dictatorship."
"The U-Turn has all the hallmarks of capitulation," said Tsunga. "It is a bit surprising that the two MDCs could enter deals with Zanu (PF) when they know perfectly well the deteriorating human rights conditions outside Parliament. There seems to be a total disconnection of Parliamentary processes to the brutality being meted out to human rights defenders."
Tsunga said as the two MDCs were supporting the Zanu (PF) project aimed at ensuring an extension of Mugabe's term in office, labour leaders engaging in peaceful job action were being abducted from their homes and tortured in policy custody. Tsunga was referring to the arrest of nine labour leaders by police ahead of Wednesday's ill-fated stay away.
The Mutambara-led MDC's secretary of Elections, Paul Themba-Nytahi, said the piecemeal amendments to the constitution were the best that the two MDCs could get under the circumstances. He hit back at civic society leaders who were alleging that the MDC had "buckled".
"I would caution anyone in civic society to desist from the habit of attempting to apportion themselves better revolutionary credentials like all of us," Themba-Nyathi said, adding that civil society was "extremely good for purposes of rabble rousing but fail to make for practical politics."
Themba-Nyathi said the MDC had done what was best for Zimbabwe and had no regrets to make.
"As far as we are concerned negotiations are about give and take," said Themba-Nyathi. "This is the best we could get under the circumstances."
The National Constitutional Assembly urged all Zimbabweans to reject the constitutional amendment agreed to by Zanu (PF) and the two MDCs saying only a people-driven process will guarantee a constitution that will survive beyond the self interests of the political parties involved.
Mugabe re-election becomes 'almost certain'
ZIMBABWE's bitter rival political parties, the ruling Zanu (PF) and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), yesterday reached an agreement on constitutional amendments to facilitate joint presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
The agreement, announced in parliament amid expectations it would pave the way to resolve the country's worsening political and economic crisis, almost certainly ensures President Robert Mugabe would be re-elected for another five-year term of office. This would extend his rule to 32 years.
Mugabe has been desperate to ensure the Constitutional Amendment (Number 18) Bill is adopted by both Zanu (PF) and the MDC to guarantee the legitimacy of his grand plan to secure re-election and manage his succession crisis.
Even if Zanu (PF) has the necessary majority to pass the Bill alone, it would have been viewed as illegitimate if the MDC did not endorse it. By agreeing to the bill, the MDC unwittingly ensures Mugabe goes to the elections in a much stronger position than he would have done if the bill was not passed with its support.
The bill is designed to bring together the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Officially, government claims this will help to cut down the costs of elections, but the real reason was revealed in the Zanu (PF) central committee meeting on March 30.
Zanu (PF) senior official and legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa said joint elections would help Mugabe's re-election bid because it would ensure Mugabe and ruling party MPs' political fates were tied together.
Minutes of the March 30 meeting also show that the decision to hold the joint elections was not a Zanu (PF) resolution, but that of Mugabe, Mnangagwa and senior party official Patrick Chinamasa who is currently spearheading Mugabe's plan in parliament.
Zanu (PF) overwhelmingly wanted the elections in 2010, but powerful elements unilaterally declared they would be held in 2008.
Retired army commander general Solomon Mujuru, a powerful force in Zimbabwean politics, blocked Zanu (PF)'s original effort to have both elections in 2010, saying Mugabe would benefit from another two years in power.
The bill also helps Mugabe to manage his explosive succession battle.
It ensures Mugabe's successor is hand-picked by parliament and Zanu (PF) insiders, which guarantees Mnangagwa will take power, sidelining the Mujuru faction.
While Mugabe makes concessions on electoral issues in the bill as a result of the ongoing talks between Zanu (PF) and the MDC facilitated by President Thabo Mbeki, Mugabe and Chinamasa made it clear in the Zanu (PF) politburo on September 5 the changes agreed to would not affect their grip on power.
Mbeki and the MDC are under pressure to salvage something from the talks.
Mbeki wants a solution for the 14-nation Southern African Development Community, while the MDC wants a negotiated settlement.
But in the end Mugabe and Zanu (PF) emerge as winners because the Bill takes off pressure with a manageable early election.
Meanwhile, an international think-tank yesterday called on SADC leaders to put pressure on Mugabe to retire.
In a report entitled Zimbabwe: A Regional Solution? the ICG said the SADC was Zimbabwe's "only real hope". It urges western leaders "to close ranks" behind Mbeki.
The report coincided with the release of figures by Zimbabwe's Central Statistics Office that showed hyperinflation had slowed to an annualised 6593% , down from 7635% in July.
The drop was attributed to a government decree in June forcing traders to slash prices by over half on a range of goods.
The move resulted in panic buying and widespread shortages. With Sapa-AFP
Welcome To Muzorewa Lite
They will have been co-opted into legitimising the Zanu PF regime
There you have it. Yesterday, without even token resistance from the opposition, yet another amendment to the constitution - the 18th - sailed unopposed another stage closer to becoming law. The opposition, of course, lacks the parliamentary votes to block the Bill's progress. But by failing to put up even ultimately futile arguments against the Bill in parliament, they have done precisely what the government desires. They have begun the process - however unwittingly - of cooperating in their own demise.
The amending Bill contains many cosmetic changes labelled by the ruling party as concessions to the opposition negotiators: alterations here and there to the initially proposed increased number of constituencies, MPs, and senators, new rules on the demarcation of constituencies, a reduction in the number of appointed MPs. But the power of the president to name his successor - through his party's majority in parliament - remains included in this odious Bill. And glaring by its omission is any mention of the comprehensively rigged voters' roll, the totally biased electoral apparatus and election courts, and the various Zanu PF-controlled militias that make any talk of free and fair elections a sick joke.
And all this based on a nod and a wink that the ruling party - among the least trustworthy administrations on the planet - may relax the effects of POSA, AIPPA, and all the other draconian legislation which has so effectively denied political choice to Zimbabwean voters ever since the referendum in February 2000. The opposition says that the decision not to oppose was to show goodwill in the continuing South African-brokered talks with the government. But bets are now off as to whether their show of goodwill will be tossed aside - it is now just a question of when. And when the opposition does cry foul, before or after next year's elections, their behaviour yesterday will be thrown back in their faces. "You agreed to the constitutional amendments," the governments of both Zimbabwe and South Africa will say. They won't have an answer. They will have been co-opted into legitimising the Zanu PF regime.
SADC and the AU will trumpet the elections as being free and fair, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Mbeki will travel the world saying, with tongue firmly in cheek, to anyone who will listen: "How many elections does Mugabe have to win in order for you to accept that he is the properly elected president of Zimbabwe?" And the repression and economic decline will continue. Does nobody remember the brief interregnum between Smith and Mugabe, when Abel Muzorewa was a very token prime minister? As it turned out, his power was illusory, and the violence and economic slide got worse and worse during his tenure. This constitutional agreement will confer even less power on the opposition than was allowed to Muzorewa. Welcome to Muzorewa-lite.
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