Zimbabwe to Submit New Constitution to People for Referendum

President Robert Mugabe   &   Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai


In a rare exercise of bi-partisanship, long-time Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his arch-nemesis Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have agreed on a new draft Constitution for their African State. Amid relatively constant bickering and a public distain for one another, Mugabe and Tsvangirai have put their differences aside in an effort to move Zimbabwe toward a more stable system of governance. However, after coming to the improbable agreement it didn’t take long for the rivals to re-aim their focus at battling each other.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have had bad blood since 2007-2008, when President Mugabe allegedly corrupted Zimbabwe’s democratic process in an effort to retain his dictator-like power over the country. It is generally believed that Morgan Tsvangirai was the clear winner of two consecutive popular elections, which would have meant the end of Mugabe’s 30-year autocratic rule over Zimbabwe. However, Tsvangirai was forced to put the brakes on his campaign for the top spot when President Robert Mugabe ordered the Zimbabwean military to use force against his own people at the polling stations during re-election balloting; Tsvangirai bowed out in the interest of saving innocent lives from being lost to Mugabe’s ruthless attempt to hold on to his power.

Afterward, Mugabe’s party, Zanu (PF), lost control of the Parliament for the first time since Mugabe lead Zimbabwe to independence in 1980. Tsvangirai was made Prime Minister on the coalition government. Now, the two men continue their political battle –with Mugabe clutching to the oppressive ways that have kept Zimbabwe under his control, and Tsvangirai asking for reforms that will ensure a more transparent and democratic process in Zimbabwe. The new constitution is an important step for Tsvangirai and his supporters. The draft constitution is scheduled to seriously limit Mugabe’s (and subsequent presidents’) powers. Namely, the new constitution would revoke the president’s ability to dissolve Parliament, declare war unilaterally, and would set term limits on Army generals, police, and intelligence service members. It is reported that such limitations will seriously undermine Mugabe’s chances at further manipulating the political process. There is one hitch, however.

President Mugabe is proposing to call elections as early as March in an effort to regain control of the Parliament, thus removing Tsvangirai from power, before the draft constitution can be ratified by the current Parliament and sent to the Zimbabwean people for a referendum. In response, Tsvangirai is calling for elections later in the year, after the draft constitution is sent to the people for a vote. Some believe that Robert Mugabe will lose the election argument because, at 89 years-old, he wishes to preserve whatever semblance of a good reputation that he has left over from his days as a revolutionary leader of the 1980 fight for Zimbabwean independence. The belief is that Mugabe will make concessions that he ordinarily would not make, so that he can maintain his legacy after he dies. What do you think? Will the Zimbabwean people get their chance to vote on the new constitution? Or will the political process in Zimbabwe continue to be obstructed by Mugabe and his supporters?

Sources: ALJAZEERA; The Zimbabwean; NewZimbabwe.com; MSNBC

Photo Source: telegraph.uk.co