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Zimbabwe's Troubled Constitution Revision Remains in Limbo

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has now been formally informed by his unity government partners that they will not accept any further negotiations on the new draft constitution, setting the stage for intervention by regional leaders.

Though negotiators from Mr. Mugabe's Zanu PF party had appended their signatures agreeing to take the draft to the next stage - the Second All Stakeholders Conference - the party rejected it and asked for renegotiations.

Zanu PF then tasked President Mugabe to take up the issue with the two leaders of the rival Movement for Democratic Change formations, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, who both rejected the proposed amendments.

The two parties also copied their responses to South African President Jacob Zuma, mediating the Zimbabwe question for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc, and Tanzanian leader Jakaya Kikwete, chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika inviting them to come in and try to unblock the log jam.

But Zanu PF is still reluctant to refer the matter to the regional leaders, with hardliners saying the party must revert to the amended Lancaster House constitution and call for elections.

Mr. Zuma’s aide Lindiwe Zulu said Pretoria is still consulting on the way forward. In its resolutions at the Maputo summit a few weeks ago, SADC called on Zuma to intervene if there is no consensus on the new charter - a crucial gateway towards the next vote.

Reads the SADC resolution: “If they are any difficulties with regard to the constitution and implementation of agreements, the facilitator is called upon to engage with the parties and assist them resolve such issues, bearing in mind the timeframes and the necessity to hold free and fair elections.”

“The facilitator and the chair of the Troika must engage on the Zimbabwe issues with the three political parties to the GPA through their presidents and principals, namely President Robert Mugabe,(Zanu PF), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Professor Welshman Ncube (MDC).”

The regional body says it hopes a referendum will be held in October and general elections mid next year. But the odds look long given the enduring deadlock.

Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi, Director of the Media Centre told VOA that the parliamentary constitution-making process was flawed from the start.