'Reforms shouldn't be about getting Mugabe out'

ZIMBABWE'S constitutional law expert Prof Lovemore Madhuku says it is wrong for Zimbabwe's reform agenda to be set around getting President Robert Mugabe out of power.\r\n

And one of Zimbabwe’s political think-tanks, Dr Ibo Mandaza, says Zimbabwe is far from a worst case scenario in terms of adherence to democratic tenets.

During a roundtable discussion with representatives of selected influential SADC media in Harare on Monday, Prof Madhuku said President Mugabe was aware that the West, some media organisations and the opposition wanted him out of power as their reform agenda.

“Everything is about Mugabe getting out. And he does not want to get out. He knows people want him out. That has been the difficult part. Everything is about Mugabe getting out. It’s not what society ultimately wants. And that is the biggest mistake,” Prof Madhuku said.

He said there was need to look beyond President Mugabe and address issues that would ultimately put in a leadership people desire.

Prof Madhuku suggested that reforms should revolve around having a good constitution and devolving power from the presidency.

He said he gets irritated with the agenda of embassies such as the US where every discourse was about getting President Mugabe out of power.
“I get irritated. I don’t think we can get anywhere with such kind of reform,” he said.

Prof Madhuku said reform should be deep and genuinely engaging of all parties.
He said the opposition was playing a very irresponsible role of just ‘saying help us get Mugabe out.’

Prof Madhuku said currently, the US wanted free and fair elections in Zimbabwe without looking at the contents of the constitution which to him was a dishonest approach.

He said currently, the draft constitution provided for more powers of the President but the US was not talking about it because they were just concentrating on removing Mugabe.

Prof Madhuku said there was need to change the international perception of Zimbabwe in the SADC region.

And Dr Mandaza said despite the economic problems, Zimbabwe was far from worst case scenario in terms of democracy.
He said problems in Zimbabwe were being highlighted because of the country’s geopolitical position.

Dr Mandaza said Zimbabwe had one of the most informed societies and the resources including a resilient citizenry.
He, however, said party lines had become very blurred in Zimbabwe and the ultimate focus was to get President Mugabe out irrespective of where they were getting their support.

Dr Mandaza said if President Mugabe was out of the equation, it would be very difficult for the opposition to manage power amongst themselves.
“They have failed to assert the reform agenda,” he said.

Dr Mandaza also said even ZANU PF was dying at the hands of President Mugabe.

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“It’s not the party of liberation anymore. The UNIP experience appears to be what awaits ZANU PF. Here, there will be a possible emergence of a new party of under 50s,” said Dr Mandaza.

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Participants noted that the narrative of Zimbabwe was one of the most intensely contested in the world.