Accessibility links

Zimbabwe’s Leaders Prepare New Constitution Ahead of Vote

  • Peter Clottey

A Zimbabwean political analyst told VOA Zimbabweans appear cynical following the announcement that President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai initiated a joint drive to draft a new constitution Wednesday.

However, Rejoice Mgwenya predicted Zimbabweans will go to the polls to choose their leaders in a democratic vote after the constitution is finalized.

He also said supporters of President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party are often complicit in using violence to intimidate opponents ahead of previous elections.

“Our biggest problem with [President] Mugabe is that the culture of violence is endemic, it’s within the DNA of their political architecture. So, we won’t be surprised a few days down the line, we get back [to] the good-old rhythm of violence…We[‘re] going to see whether he [Mr. Mugabe] is going to get rid of that strategy,” he said.

At the launch of the draft constitutional process Wednesday, the former bitter rivals called for tolerance saying there was need for supporters of Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to avoid violence.

Local media quoted Mr. Mugabe as saying “we are now a sovereign people uninhibited by anyone else except those who want to interfere in our domestic affairs who are doing it illegally… We will allow the people to debate the nature of the government they want. We must also look at various practices elsewhere and allow the people to make their choice… We are working as three entities in the main. We are the drivers."

As part of the constitutional process, officials of political parties, as well as civil society groups, are scheduled to collect the views of Zimbabweans.

Former opposition leader Tsvangirai agreed to participate in a unity government with President Mugabe after the Southern African Development Community (SADC) brokered a peace agreement to end years of escalating political tensions.

The accord, also known as the Global Political Agreement (GPA), calls for a new constitution ahead of future elections.

President Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s leader since the country gained independence from colonial power Britain in 1980.

Analyst Mgwenya said it is unlikely that President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF will relinquish power anytime soon.

“Having been in power for 30 years, all the systems of governance they have been ZANU-fied [controlled]. Look at the way they have been reacting to problems. It’s going to take a bit of a time for them to accept the culture of defeat because a new constitutional dispensation is going to spell doom for them,” Mgwenya said.