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Zimbabweans Advocate Retirement Package for Mugabe

The International Crisis Group (ICG) says some Zimbabweans are in favor of a retirement package, which would be attractive enough for President Robert Mugabe to step down. It could include granting immunity to president Mugabe from prosecution while safeguarding his wealth. At the same time the ICG HAS warned that time has run out for next year’s elections to be free and fair.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Tuesday backed a bill, which would allow Mugabe to choose a successor after a compromise on the bill that would also limit the president’s power to appoint members of parliament.

Andebrhan Giovis is a senior advisor to the Africa program of the International Crisis Group in South Africa. From the capital Pretoria, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that what Zimbabweans are advocating forms part of a solution to resolve the country’s political crisis.

“It’s the Zimbabweans political forces who agreed guaranteeing President Mugabe immunity from prosecution and also security for his person, his family, and his assets is something they accept in return for his retirement. So may be African leaders can help convince him to step down in return for this deal is part of a retirement package. But it is the political forces and the people of Zimbabwe who must do that,” Giovis pointed out.

He said the proposal forms part of a bigger picture to resolve the political impasse between the ruling ZANU-PF government and the opposition MDC.

“This is supposed to be one element in the equation, it is not necessarily the only way, but that’s really secondary. What we are really looking for is the success of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) initiative undertaken by President Mbeki on behalf of the regional community where he is mediating between the processes of a political dialogue between the two main political forces in Zimbabwe. And the idea is for them to agree or to negotiate a set of political, constitutional, security sector, and economic reforms, including land reform as a way of creating the conditions for free and fair elections next year so that all Zimbabweans wherever they are at home and in the Diaspora can express themselves and freely, fairly elect their leader, their government to determine their future,” he said.

Giovis explained the rationale behind the opposition party’s backing of the bill, which effectively enables President Mugabe to choose a successor.

“There are two processes underway here: One is the tabling of Amendment 18 by ZANU-PF in parliament, and the other is a process of negotiations between ZANU-PF and MDC on constitutional reforms. So, the agreement today is not just to let that pass, but also to let that be debated. But at the same time download it with the necessary reforms to create the conditions for free and fair elections next year. So there is more to it than meets the eye as they say,” Giovis noted.