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Zimbabwe's Military Takes Aim At Draft Constitution

Zimbabwe's constitutional-making process faces collapse as members of the military and hardliners from President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF team-up to resist key reforms.

As a result, the parliamentary select committee writing the nation’s new charter has called for an urgent meeting Monday to deal with the impending crisis.

Army chief of staff Major General Martin Chedondo this week accused the select committee of “trying to bring in and popularize foreign ideas, values and ethos which were never the way Zimbabweans used to live and respect.”

Zanu PF sources told VOA throughout this week that securocrats have been meeting the party’s technical committee on the constitution to make demands that are likely to torpedo the process.

Among the demands being made by the army and also adopted by the party, is the view that President Mugabe retains his executive powers and be allowed to unilaterally appoint service chiefs.

Proposals in the draft constitution say the president must appoint service chiefs in consultation with the Defense Services Commission, which is appointed by the president and subject to approval by parliament.

The army is also bitter about what it is calling over-regulation of the military’s political activities. This comes amid reports that securocrats are increasingly tightening their grip on Zanu PF as several members of the Central Intelligence Organization, police and retired army officers, line up to stand on party tickets in the next election.

The hardliners also want the attorney general to retain his sweeping powers. The draft takes prosecuting powers from the AG, who becomes only a legal adviser to the president while a new National Prosecuting Authority is created.

Zanu PF hardliners are also not happy with clauses that they say give women unnecessary rights.

Co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, Zanu PF's point person in the select committee, told VOA that the Constitution seeks no security sector reforms.

But Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's representative co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora says the army is trying to hijack the constitution-making process.

Co-chairman Edward Mkhosi of the Welshman Ncube MDC says the army has no right to interfere with the select committee’s process.

Political analyst Trevor Maisiri of the International Crisis Group says the army’s intervention spells disaster for the constitutional writing process.