Print options

August 16, 2012

Zuma Cites Progress on Zimbabwe Constitution

by Sebastian Mhofu

HARARE, Zimbabwe — South African President Jacob Zuma is in Mozambique, where he is expected to brief regional leaders about his failure to make a breakthrough in Zimbabwe. Power-sharing partners there are deadlocked over contents of a draft constitution. Zuma, the Southern African Development Community [SADC] mediator in Zimbabwe, left Harare saying there was some progress, but sticking points remain.

Zuma held more than five hours of meetings Wednesday with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party. Zuma spoke to reporters afterwards.

“I think there is progress which has been made. But there are still some hitches [obstacles] here and there. But there has been progress that has been made by the parties. I will be reporting to SADC as from tomorrow,” said Zuma.

Zuma was in neighboring Zimbabwe to monitor progress on reforms that African regional leaders expect from the Zimbabwean leadership in preparation for a referendum on a new constitution and then elections.

The first of the reforms that SADC leaders want in Zimbabwe is a new constitution. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party wants a draft constitution amended. However, Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube, leader of a small MDC wing, are opposed to Mugabe's proposal to amend the constitution.

Leaving the meeting, Mugabe dismissed Zuma’s assertions that there were obstacles, or what he called “hitches,” regarding the draft constitution.

“I do not know what hitches there are. We’ve made amendments," said Mugabe. "I supposed that is what he [Zuma] is referring to. We are an enlightened party and do not just accept things as conclusive.”

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party wants a revision of the draft constitution since it reduces the powers of the presidency and increases the control of parliament in Zimbabwean politics.

If a referendum on a new constitution can be held in Zimbabwe later this year, elections are possible in 2013. It remains to be seen what details of Wednesday's meetings with Zuma will tell regional leaders meeting in Mozambique, and if a path forward is possible.