Mugabe to increase his powers by expanding parliament and senate

By Tichaona Sibanda
5 April 2007

A new set of constitutional changes to be tabled in parliament soon will give power to the legislature to elect a successor, in the event that a sitting president dies in office or resigns before the completion of a current term.

Currently the country’s constitution provides for an election to be held within 90 days of the office of President becoming vacant. Analysts said the new set of proposals by the ruling party is meant to pave the way for Mugabe’s anticipated resignation after he is ‘re-elected’ into power next year, but he wants to ensure a candidate of his choice succeeds him.

The weekly Financial Gazette reported that Mugabe is expected to appoint 10 members of the House of Assembly, and will have a controlling influence on all senators, as there will no longer be a direct election for senators. The House of Assembly will be expanded from the current 150 to 210 members and the senate from 66 to 84 members.

The paper added that traditional chiefs will have 10 representatives in the senate, which will accommodate 10 Zanu PF provincial governors directly appointed by Mugabe, and six senators per province elected in line with the present constituency-based system. But the face saving plan would work only if Mugabe manages to win the presidential election, set for next year. After succeeding in suppressing debate over his candidacy for the presidential race during a central committee meeting last Friday, Mugabe will have a firmer grip on the legislature, which will be granted powers to act as an electoral college.

George Mkwananzi, a political analyst, said if this succeeds the Southern African Development Community would be to blame for taking such a weak stance against Mugabe’s tyranny ‘in their midst.’ The first step for SADC, said Mkwananzi, was to ensure all parliamentary changes by Zanu (PF) should not have a predetermined outcome at the elections next year. He said it’s time SADC took off its kids’ gloves when dealing with Mugabe.

‘What shocks me is that they failed even to condemn Mugabe strongly, vividly and conspicuously for the acts of terrorism and brutal attacks his forces perpetrated on the 11th March. And here he is, an 83-year-old man using his ancestral spirit, ruling over the living when he’s half dead and half alive wanting to go on unchallenged. This is the time for the regional bloc to stand up and be counted otherwise they will let down millions of long-suffering Zimbabweans,’ Mkwananzi said.


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