Will a new constitution make Zimbabwe more democratic?
A draft constitution, released this week, proposes term limits for presidents, as well as a commission to study past crimes against humanity.
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It is that very question – when Mugabe leaves office – that has hogged the limelight.Skip to next paragraph
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Small wonder. Mugabe's rule has witnessed the slaughter of rival liberation parties, the unpaid confiscation of lands from white commercial farmers, and the economic meltdown of the country that led to inflation rates of more than 1 million percent.
According to a draft of the constitution, obtained by the Monitor, the constitution is very clear that any future president will face strict term limits. Chapter 6.8 sub section (2) reads “A person must not hold office of President for more than two terms whether continuous or not, under this constitution and the term of office of president is period of five years.
Term limits aside, it may be the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission which causes the most discomfort among members of Mugabe's inner circle. In the early 1980s, Mugabe sent his notorious 5th brigade in a counter-insurgency campaign called "Gukurahundi," which reportedly killed 20,000 civilians, and a separate anti-slum measure called Murambatsvina in 2005, which destroyed the homes of opponents in urban and rural areas and left millions homeless. Together with a proposed Public Protector's Office, this commission would have powers to dig into both past crimes against humanity as well as ongoing corruption and abuse of power by Zimbabwe's political elites.
In his weekly blog, political analyst Takura Zhangazha writes that the draft constitution is unimpressive, because it reflects more of the main party's desire to remain in power, rather than a substantial change of the country's political process. “Zimbabwe's current constitutional reform process, whichever way one would like to view it, is devoid of a necessary national political dignity or seriousness,” he writes.
Mr. Zhangazha blames arguments that have “ranged from issues to do with outreach reports, donor funding, the role of political parties, and at the time of writing, issues to do with the final content of the draft constitution” as weaknesses for the forthcoming constitution.
The exercise, Zhangazha adds, was “highly politicized” and “reflective of partisan political positions that suit solely the pursuit of political power at the expense of the public interest.”
*The Monitor's correspondent in Harare could not be named for security reasons.
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