SW Radio Africa (London)

20 December 2012

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Dismiss Threat of Elections Without New Charter

Bulawayo South MP Eddie Cross, who is the MDC-T director for policy research, has dismissed a report in the state run Herald newspaper Thursday suggesting that Robert Mugabe would call for elections under the current Constitution if the reform exercise was not completed by Christmas.

The report said the Cabinet committee set up by the government principals to break the current deadlock has made no progress so far, apparently because they are failing to meet to discuss the 30 unresolved issues that ZANU PF wants to be changed in the new draft charter.

According to the Herald, the delay is now threatening an election without a new constitution and election dates determined unilaterally by Robert Mugabe.

The paper quoted Munyaradzi Mangwana, the COPAC co-chairperson from ZANU PF, who blamed the lack of progress on the MDC-T, saying their representatives had failed to turn up for meetings on three occasions this week.

The Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, who also chairs the committee, said they had failed to raise a quorum each time because "either representatives from one of the political parties would be absent". He said they would probably meet next Monday.

But Eddie Cross, the MDC-T director for policy research, sent a more positive signal on Thursday. He dismissed the Herald story, saying there is no chance Zimbabwe will hold elections without a new constitution.

Speaking on our Crisis Analysis programme, Cross said: "I saw Minister Tendai Biti and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa this morning and they are both of the mind that these differences were relatively minor now and they were going to be dealt with," Cross explained.

He added: "Our position in the MDC is the one that will prevail. And our position from the start has been that we are not prepared under any circumstances to accept further changes to the draft constitution, which have not been adopted by the COPAC process."

Cross stressed that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been extremely busy meeting with officials from key institutions, to ensure that all the reforms that need to be in place to hold a credible, free and fair election will be implemented.

He said SADC was tired of the crisis dragging on and were fully behind the GPA process agreed to by the political parties.

However, some independent observers have said there is no sense of urgency to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis.

The facilitation team representing President Jacob Zuma met with the political parties in Harare last month and returned to inform him of the persistent differences. There has been no word from Zuma, the SADC appointed chief negotiator, since then.

In addition, a SADC Troika team appointed to assist the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), never got to do their job. The team was reduced from three members to two, then left the country without meeting with JOMIC, because they were said to be too busy working on the constitution.

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