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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs