News / Africa

Presidential Powers Reduced Under Zimbabwe's New Charter

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (R) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai announce the resolution of longstading disputes over a draft constitution at a press conference in Harare, January 17, 2013.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (R) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai announce the resolution of longstading disputes over a draft constitution at a press conference in Harare, January 17, 2013.
When Zimbabwe's main political parties, Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), announced last week they had finally reached agreement on a new constitution, they did not reveal what caused the long delay.   It took the parties six months to finalize the draft that a parliamentary committee submitted to parliament.

MDC politician Priscilla Misihairabwi said the process "wasn't easy."

"The time we took was indicative that it was quite difficult," Misihairabwi said. "At some stage, there was a realization by all political parties that not reaching a compromise meant we would again have to go back and be treated like children at SADC and AU.”

SADC (Southern African Development Community) and AU (African Union) refers to Africa’s regional leaders who, in 2009, forced President Robert Mugabe of Zanu-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC to form a power-sharing government following violent, disputed elections. The leaders said the Zimbabwe coalition would only end with elections on a new constitution. It is the contents of that new constitution that the country's main political parties have been debating for half a year.

In interviews with VOA, officials said certain issues were especially tough. They included reducing powers of the president, increasing powers of parliament and decentralizing authority to regions.   

Mugabe’s Zanu-PF opposed many of the reforms. Party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said there was nothing wrong with his party being opposed to the contents of the draft.

“It is a question of give and take," said Gumbo. "I know some people will say ' Zanu-PF you said you will not move an inch on certain things.' No. It is nonsense.”

Zanu-PF had indicated that it wanted a president who is more powerful than parliament. In the new constitution, Zimbabwe’s president now can only dissolve parliament if the House refuses to pass a budget. That is not all Zanu-PF lost in the negotiations.  Regions have been granted some autonomy, a move that Zanu-PF strong opposed, said Gumbo.

“We were keen to avoid the issue of devolution, we thought it was not the right term for what ought to be done.”  

But that has all been settled for now. And the cash-strapped Zimbabwe government is now putting funds together to send the draft constitution to the voters in a referendum around April, which will pave the way for national elections later this year.

However some civic organizations and Zimbabweans have indicated that they will oppose the draft, saying it only reflects the views of Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s parties.

Among those opposed is Simba Makoni, who was active in the last national elections.

"They [coalition government] should not expect the people to accept a product that is designed to safeguard and entrench the interests of a small clique at the expense of the will and rights of the whole nation," Makoni said. "We condemn, in the strongest terms, that national resources were expended in an exercise aimed primarily at allaying the fears and concerns, and advancing the aspirations of, the GPA political parties."

GPA refers to an agreement that Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed before forming Zimbabwe’s current four-year-old coalition government.

The coalition government’s term will finally end when a new constitution is in place.

You May Like

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid