The move is buried deep in his Zanu-PF party’s draft of the constitutional amendment needed before the unity government with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change can be given legal force.
Talks on the amendment have begun in South Africa, mediated by Thabo Mbeki, the country’s former president. But the demand – and the MDC’s own alternatives – threaten to derail the entire process.
According to a copy obtained by The Telegraph, section 5 of clause 115 of the new constitution, as proposed by Zanu-PF, states that any deal could be cancelled if "the President is satisfied that the circumstances are such that the continuance of the Interparty Political Agreement is no longer possible for any reason."
Mr Mugabe would simply have to issue a proclamation and all the changes brought in by power-sharing would be cancelled, including Morgan Tsvangirai’s prime ministership, with the country reverting to an executive presidency.
It appears to provide ample evidence for the Movement for Democratic Change’s allegations that Mr Mugabe is not taking part in the process in good faith.
But the MDC, faced with the prospect of being pushed into a government in which it will clearly be the junior partner, is also attempting to put its own spin on the constitutional changes.
In its proposal it effectively seeks to re-open the power-sharing negotiations by dramatically increasing the authority of the Council of Ministers, which will be made up of all the cabinet members, the prime minister and his deputies, but exclude the president: Mr Mugabe.
"The Cabinet, and every member thereof, shall comply with any directions or recommendations given to it or him, as the case may be, by the Council of Ministers," says the MDC’s text, according to a copy obtained by The Telegraph.
If the measure were to pass it would explicitly make the Council of Ministers superior to the cabinet, while the power-sharing agreement left the two bodies’ relative positions vague and unclear, raising fears among critics that the way had been left open for Mr Mugabe to manipulate the operations of government.
Analysts who have compared the two drafts say they are so far apart that agreement is highly unlikely. "It will take a miracle," said one.
A prominent Zimbabwean lawyer, who has played no part in the negotiations, said: "The government of Zimbabwe draft is cynical, has a narrow perspective, and seeks to retain all Mugabe’s powers.
"The MDC draft amendment is detailed and wonderful stuff – a democrat’s wish list – but it covers ground which is not included in the agreement. Everyone knows that the agreement is far from perfect but it emerged from negotiations."
The MDC signalled that, contrary to demands that the power-sharing government be formed as soon as possible from the Elders, statesmen who visited the region at the weekend, it was prepared for lengthy talks.
"For us, it is better to have a longer gestation period and a healthy baby than an inducement than ends in abortion," said its spokesman Nelson Chamisa. SOURCE: The Telegraph (UK)