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Mugabe’s Constitutional Changes Rejected by MDC Party

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
Changes to the constitution proposed by President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party have been rejected by the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change, according to officials. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Changes to the constitution proposed by President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party have been rejected by the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change, according to officials.

Mugabe’s party led the southern African nation for almost three decades before being forced by the 15-nation Southern African Development Community to share power with the Movement for Democratic Change’s Morgan Tsvangirai, who is now the country’s prime minister, and a splinter faction of that party. Under the agreement brokered by SADC the parties must draw up a new constitution, hold a referendum on that document and then schedule elections.

Zanu-PF removed dual citizenship from the draft constitution and gave the presidency executive powers to dissolve parliament, declare war, appoint judges without interview and enjoy complete presidential immunity, David Coltart, a senator and education minister with the MDC splinter faction headed by Welshman Ncube, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Zanu-PF is attempting to “subvert the entire process of peaceful reform in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“The time for negotiations is over,” Douglas Mwonzora, spokesman for the party of Tsvangirai, 60, said by phone from Harare, the capital, yesterday. “We’re not going to accept any changes because there is one draft and it was agreed to by all political parties.”

Violent Elections

Mugabe, 88, and Tsvangirai were forced by SADC, of which Zimbabwe and South Africa are members, to share power after a series of violent and disputed elections and a decade-long recession that drove millions of Zimbabweans into neighboring states in search of work.

“What is clear is that we won’t produce a new constitution,” said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly lobby group, in Harare. “What Zanu-PF is pushing for is that we get a Zanu-PF document or we get none. They should abandon this process because it is flawed.”

Two members of Zanu-PF’s top decision-making body including a cabinet minister said last week the party planned to stall a referendum on Zimbabwe’s proposed constitution because it believes it will lose the election. The officials declined to be identified because the party’s strategy hasn’t been made public.

Platinum, Chrome

The party is “only putting forward changes demanded by the people of Zimbabwe,” Rugare Gumbo, a Zanu-PF spokesman, said in a phone interview yesterday.

Delays to the referendum may hinder the economic recovery, with companies hesitant to invest in mining the world’s second-biggest platinum and chrome reserves without knowing who will rule the country. Mugabe’s party, in power since independence in 1980, has threatened to nationalize foreign-owned assets and is pushing a law that requires companies to sell 51 percent of their local assets to black Zimbabweans.

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Aquarius Platinum Ltd. Anglo American Platinum Ltd. own platinum mines in the country while Rio Tinto Plc owns a diamond mine. Barclays Plc, Old Mutual Plc and Standard Chartered Plc also operate there.

“SADC will have to intervene,” said Takavafira Zhou, a political analyst at Masvingo State University in the central town of Masvingo, in an interview.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Latham in Johannesburg at blatham@bloomberg.net; Godfrey Marawanyika in Johannesburg at gmarawanyika@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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