19 July 2012

Zimbabwe: New Constitution Says Vice-Presidents to Be Elected By Voters

Photo: IRIN
Zimbabweans have been waiting for a new constitution for almost three years.

Future Vice-Presidents in Zimbabwe will be elected directly by voters, unlike in the past where they were appointed from within the party in government.

This is contained in the final draft of the new constitution which has finally been made available by COPAC after it was completed on Wednesday.

Since independence all Vice-Presidents who have served under Robert Mugabe were appointed by him from ZANU PF. They were never voted into the position, as happens in neighbouring Malawi or in the United States.

But under the new constitution Part 2 section 5.2 says every candidate for President must nominate two persons to stand for election jointly with him or her as his or her Vice-Presidents.

'The President must designate one of those persons as his or her candidate for first Vice-President and the other as his or her candidate for second Vice-President.'

The new charter stipulates that the election of a President and Vice-Presidents must take place concurrently with every general election of Members of Parliament.

It means in the next election Mugabe will nominate two people, presumably Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo the current incumbents, as his running mates.

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai will likely nominate his deputy Thokozani Khupe as his running mate, plus one other candidate from the party. The constitution also spells out that the President and his Vice-Presidents will assume office on the ninth day after they have won the election.

In the past Mugabe has the taken oath of office in hastily organised ceremonies, a day or two after being controversially declared winner. This gave him the added advantage of negotiating any constitutional challenge to his victory, and has served him well in SADC or AU summits where he presents himself as the legitimate president, when the whole world knows he rigged the elections.

The new charter gives the President the power to declare war, but a declaration of war will be revoked if it is not approved by the Senate and the National Assembly within seven sitting days of that declaration.

Over a decade ago Mugabe sent 12,000 troops to back the late Laurent Kabila during the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The expensive involvement in the civil war in the DRC was extremely unpopular with Zimbabweans and it led to the economic crisis that rocked the country, with many millions of dollars each month being spent on the conflict.

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