Mugabe gazettes national unity amendment to constitution

December 14th, 2008 - 2:16 am ICT by IANS  

Harare, Dec 14 (DPA) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has gazetted a constitutional amendment bill that gives legal effect to the formation of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe but the opposition has quickly hinted that there are many issues that needs to be addressed.The Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill formalises the posts and institutions that were created by the power-sharing deal signed by Mugabe and the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in September.

In the deal - brokered by the former South African leader Thabo Mbeki - Tsvangirai who heads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would become the prime minister while Mugabe remains the president.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson said of the gazetting of the bill: “That is a Zanu PF project. Gazetting the bill does not automatically translate into passing it into law. That can only take place if outstanding issues have been addressed, otherwise we will not support the bill.

“The issues we want addressed includes the recusal of Mr Mbeki as the mediator. He is taking instructions from Zanu PF and we have informed SADC about it,” he added.

The power-sharing deal is yet to take effect as the MDC accuse Mugabe of taking all the key ministries such as foreign affairs, local government, finance, home affairs and defence.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe - who is the chairman of the rotating chairmanship of SADC - Saturday welcomed the the amendment being published in the official gazette.

In a statement Motlanthe said: “The gazetting of Amendment 19 of the Zimbabwean Constitution is indeed a major step towards the formation of an inclusive government in Zimbabwe.”

He urged Zimbabwe’s political parties “to establish an inclusive government as envisaged in the Global Agreement” and said South Africa and the SADC “stand ready to assist the people of Zimbabwe as they embark on the difficult road towards the reconstruction and development of their country”.

“We understand too well that this will indeed not be an easy task, however, with the support of SADC, AU and the rest of the international community the Zimbabwean people will and must succeed,” Motlanthe said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted by the state-run daily The Herald saying if the bill does not sail through, Mugabe would call for fresh polls.

“I envisage that it will require two weeks for it to be debated and passed through both Houses. If no support is forthcoming, it means that Amendment Number 19 Bill will be dead matter,” Chinamasa told the paper.

“In the event that the collaboration that we envisage is not forthcoming, then that will necessitate fresh harmonised elections at some point in time.”

Zanu PF lost its majority in parliament in the March elections, resulting in a hung parliament. Zanu PF has 98 seats and the rest for the opposition in the 210-member chamber. If MDC does not support the Bill, it will not become law.

Mugabe has twice hinted at the possibility of fresh elections should the September power sharing deal agreement fail to get off the ground.

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