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Zimbabwe President Mugabe's ZANU-PF Said to Hold Up New Constitution


Constitutional revision efforts ground to a halt in May when ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change clashed on the methodology to be used by compilation teams in boiling down the mass of data

Some in Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party are accusing Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, the party's legal secretary, of holding up the already behind-schedule constitutional revision process by rejecting a compromise on how data from an earlier public comment process should translate into a draft.

Constitutional revision efforts ground to a halt in May when ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai clashed on the methodology to be used by compilation teams in boiling down the mass of data.

ZANU-PF demanded a so-called quantitative method measuring support for any position based on the number of times it was mentioned in meetings. The MDC said the quality of comments should be taken into account too. During the outreach process ZANU-PF was accused of packing meetings and coercing participants to endorse its positions.

The parliamentary panel running the revision process proposed a compromise under which both methods would be combined. But Mnangagwa objected.

ZANU-PF sources say Mnangagwa, considered a potential successor to Mr. Mugabe as party leader and and potentially president, wants the executive powers of the president to remain unchanged. They said he was meeting with President Mugabe Wednesday to discuss the impasse holding up the process of revision - which ironically ZANU-PF has demanded be accelerated so elections can be held sooner than later.

Sources in the former ruling party said ZANU-PF wants to retain the executive in its present form with a president, two vice presidents and a cabinet. They said the party is determined to eliminate the position of prime minister which was reintroduced under the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power-sharing to be filled by Mr. Tsvangirai.

Co-chairman Paul Mangwana, ZANU-PF co-chairman of the parliamentary committee running the revision process on a day-by-day basis, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that Mr. Mugabe was to meet with Mnangagwa, but said there is no crisis.

But Douglas Mwonzora, committee co-chairman for Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation, accused ZANU-PF of trying to derail the entire constitutional revision process.

Elsewhere, ZANU-PF's politburo was in session late Wednesday to discuss an election road map and the possible expulsion of Deputy Labor Minister Tracy Mutinhiri, whose farm was invaded by ZANU-PF members earlier this week. ZANU-PF hardliners have accused Mutinhiri of being too friendly with the former opposition MDC.

Also Wednesday, the High Court reserved judgment on urgent applications filed by Finance Minister Tendai Biti seeking to prevent the release of his Econet mobile phone records to police who have obtained a magistrate’s order for access.

Five of Biti's ministry staff have been arrested on various charges alleging improprieties related to travel budgets and contracting procedures, and the Zimbabwean police are said to be eager to come up with charges to bring against Biti himself.

The Tsvangirai MDC formation, of which Biti is secretary general, has accused police and prosecutors loyal to ZANU-PF of conjuring up charges against party officials.

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