MDC rejects further amendments to constitution.

MAPUTO – Finance Minister and the MDC-T’s secretary general, Tendai Biti on Saturday told AIM in Maputo, where he was attending the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), that the new impasse over the constitution is entirely the responsibility of ZANU-PF.

 

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Earlier in the week SADC Executive Secretary Tomas Salomao was optimistic that the new constitution had been agreed, and could go to a referendum in October, thus paving the way for general elections in Zimbabwe next year.

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But that timetable has been thrown into uncertainty by ZANU-PF’s demand for further amendments.

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The draft constitution was completed on 18 July – but ZANU-PF has subsequently back-tracked, demanding changes in the text. On Wednesday, South African President Jacob Zuma, who is the SADC facilitator on Zimbabwe, flew to Harare to try and break the new deadlock.

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He downplayed the problem, saying there were only “minor hitches”. But Mugabe told reporters that ZANU-PF was making amendments, something which both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), regard as out of the question

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Biti, who is also general secretary of the main faction of the MDC, led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told AIM that, as far as both MDC factions are concerned, the constitution is a done deal.

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“Three years were spent discussing the constitution”, he pointed out, and the two MDCs did not accept ZANU-PF reopening those discussions. “When the ZANU-PF team negotiated with the MDCs, we assumed they had the authority from their party to do so”.

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Biti insisted that the constitution could not be amended here and there, because it all hung together as a coherent whole. “For example, you can’t just say we want to change section three, because section three is connected to section eight and so on”, he said.

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He was unsure what the SADC summit can do to unblock this latest impasse.

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Both MDCs wanted the referendum in October, Biti said, and if there was no longer agreement with ZANU-PF, perhaps the simplest thing to do would be to put both texts before the Zimbabwean electorate – the text agreed by the negotiators of all three parties, and the one that ZANU-PF is now writing on its own. – Zimeye

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