Zimbabwe: New Political Party Approaches Mugabe Over Polls

THE Zimbabwe Development Party (ZDP) - a newly formed political formation unveiled in Harare last week - has written to President Robert Mugabe requesting the veteran politician to call for fresh elections under the current Constitution.

ZDP president, Kisinoti Mukwazhe, dispatched a letter to President Mugabe on Monday imploring the ZANU-PF leader to use his constitutional mandate to set dates for fresh polls to bring closure to the acrimonious government of national unity (GNU).

"We as ZDP do hereby request your most high office His Excellency to set and announce the date for elections without the new constitution because the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) draft constitution is sub-standard, irrelevant, not broad-based and inadequately addresses the key national interest," Mukwazhe wrote.

"His Excellency, we all bank on your constitutional mandate to allow political reforms, which may enhance free and fair elections. We beg you to set and announce election dates soon," he added.

Observers accuse Mukwazhe of being among those bent on derailing the constitution-making process to force the country to hold polls under the colonial Lancaster House Constitution, which favours the incumbent.

The move comes days after an association of youths accused of fronting ZANU-PF's often violent election campaigns - the Zimbabwe National Youth Service Graduates Association - went to court to force the incumbent to call a mini-general election in close to 200 vacant parliamentary and municipal seats.

President Mugabe has been demanding an election under the current Constitution but his coalition partners have resisted the move.

Mukwazhe has denied the accusations, saying they were being peddled by ZDP's foes.

"We are a party for development. Zimbabwe will never be a poor nation again when we get into power. ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations smuggled Amendment Number 19 into the Constitution so as to get each other into power," he said. "ZDP is a bona fide political party with its own agenda untainted by any external forces or interests. We are our own masters driven by interests of the Zimbabwe people. We are guided by the key historical agendas and democratic principles for equal distribution of Zimbabwean wealth in a hospitable manner regardless of individuals' political affiliation, ethnic, tribe, colour and race," he said.

ZANU-PF and the MDC parties are sharply divided over a new constitution for Zimbabwe.

While the two MDC formations have endorsed the COPAC draft, ZANU-PF wants more than 200 of its amendments included in the final draft, a development vehemently opposed by its partners in the GNU.

Zimbabwe's fringe political parties are excluded in the constitution-making process by virtue of not being signatories of the Global Political Agreement.

ZDP said it was high time the concerns of fringe political parties were also taken into account.

He also called on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to discontinue his Yes campaign for the new constitution to avoid destabilising the country. Tsvangirai launched his YES campaign at the weekend.

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) yesterday expressed deep concern over the current impasse in the constitution-making, saying the bloc now looked upon SADC to bring it back on track.

Acting ambassador of the EU delegation to Zimbabwe, Carl Skau, said there was grave concern within the 27-member bloc about the current impasse and wanted the deadlocked unlocked, possibly with the intervention of SADC.

He said the constitutional process was viewed by the EU as vital for national consensus building under the inclusive government as well as a process necessary to provide a conducive environment for democratic and credible elections.

"We look to the SADC facilitation to ensure that the process is put back on track, and we hope that the leaders will listen to the calls of the Zimbabwean people for a positive and peaceful conclusion to the process," he said.

The ZANU-PF Politburo met yesterday to discuss a position on the draft after President Mugabe postponed a meeting of the principals that had been scheduled to discuss the stalemate.

Speculation was rife this week that ZANU-PF could compromise on the draft with suggestions the party was not entirely opposed to the COPAC draft being sent to the Second All Stakeholders conference in its current form.

The EU acting ambassador said it was the European grouping's view that credible elections were critical for a peaceful and stable Zimbabwe, based on democratic legitimacy.

"We hope that the roadmap for elections can be implemented and that the elections are held in line with the SADC guidelines and principles. A robust SADC observation mission before, during and after the elections, would be a pre-requisite for credible elections. The EU is of course happy to work with any government formed as the result of such a credible electoral process," said Skau.

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