Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

New constitution reduces Mugabe to a clerk

An outspoken lawmaker from the party of Zimbabwe’s long serving ruler Robert Mugabe on Tuesday rejected a new draft constitution that would rein in presidential powers as an attack on democracy.

Chief Wiki-Leaker Jonathan Moyo (centre) seen here with Dictator Robert Mugabe at a Zanu PF Politburo meeting
Chief Wiki-Leaker Jonathan Moyo (centre) seen here with Dictator Robert Mugabe at a Zanu PF Politburo meeting

“It strips the executive of all powers and leaves it as a clerical branch of government,” said Jonathan Moyo, a one-time spin doctor and former information minister of Mugabe. “This draft is an attack, quite a serious attack on our sovereignty, quite a serious attack on our democracy,” he said.

The document will go to a referendum vote, most likely in October, and is a key reform demanded by regional mediators ahead of polls to end the uneasy ruling coalition between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Speaking at a discussion forum organised by IDASA, a Pretoria-based African democracy institute, Moyo said the ruling ZANU-PF had last week spent 18 hours combing through the document and was still discussing it.

The long delayed draft did not reflect the views expressed by ordinary Zimbabweans during an outreach programme but was a compromise between the main political parties, he said.

“If you ask what is it that is in the draft that raises problems, … I am tempted to say everything. But if I say that it has 18 chapters, but I can tell you that each of the 18 chapters has a problem.”

The draft plans to set down a presidential two-term limit of 10 years and strip any immunity from prosecution after leaving office.

Mugabe’s rule has been peppered with accusations of widespread right abuses. The draft was finished this month by negotiators from the country’s main political parties and has already been disputed by some analysts.

A guide to the Zimbabwe constitutional draft

Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a coalition government in February 2009 after a disputed presidential poll run-off in June 2008. Moyo also criticised the regional bloc SADC for continuing to “poke its nose” in the day-to-day running of the power-sharing government long after it brokered the unity government.

He said former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan brokered a powersharing arrangement in Kenya after disputed elections and “left the Kenyans to run their government.”

“They did not keep poking their nose into the goings on, on who’s doing what, who’s saying what, who called who what name…who’s behaving badly, who’s a good boy and who’s a good girl.”

He said the Southern African Development Community’s interference had resulted in a dysfunctional coalition government. SADC has given Zimbabwe time until next June to hold the election.

“Instead of focusing on policy implementation, the (government) with the active encouragement of SADC has been about endless negotiations …(on an already) agreed deal.”

He said with less than a year before the elections, the government “has nothing to show for its existence on the policy front.” AFP