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Roadmap set

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Negotiators to the GPA have painstakingly resolved to implement all positions in the election roadmap by December this year with the exception of the new constitution which they said would be determined by Copac.

The negotiators agreed during their meeting on Monday night that once Zimbabweans accept the new constitution, ratification by Parliament and Presidential assent should be done within two months after which there should be a realignment of the country’s laws with the new constitution, before an election.

The development leaves Zanu PF, which was vigorously pushing for elections this year despite protests from the two MDCs and Sadc, with egg on the face.

The negotiators, Zanu PF’s Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses Mzila-Ndlovu (MDC-N) and Tendai Biti as well as Elton Mangoma (MDC-T), are expected to sign their agreed position on Wednesday before forwarding the document to their principals.

One of the inter-party negotiators told NewsDay:

“This means that there is no way we can hold elections this year, given that Copac is still on the thematic stages, after which they will be drafting, then a second stakeholders’ conference. The constitution will then be debated in Parliament and this will take time. From there, we will go for a referendum. The constitution will be sent back to Parliament before a Presidential
assent can be done and this should be within two months.”

The negotiators referred all outstanding issues to their quarrelling principals, President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who are expected to find lasting solutions to the niggling issues and put aside their ideological differences.

They also resolved to engage President Mugabe and Tsvangirai to incorporate Welshman Ncube into the top echelons of the unstable coalition, on the grounds Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara no longer had the mandate to continue discussing GPA issues with the other principals.

“Deliberations went well, but one of the most contentious issues was putting a timeline to the amendment of section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which has been used to crack down on Zanu PF’s political rivals by detaining them for long periods. We finally settled for 120 days, which is four months,” said another negotiator.

“We also agreed that media reforms should be done within 90 days. There was concern particularly with the slow pace of implementing agreed issues on broadcasting such as the licensing of new players. We agreed that the effective date of the timelines would be 1 August.”

Issues referred to the principals include the staffing of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) , security sector reforms and the monitoring of elections.

The MDC parties are adamant Zec staff should be recruited afresh by the new commission “in a non-partisan and transparent” manner, while Zanu PF believes there should be no changes.
The MDC formations want service chiefs to publicly declare they will “unequivocally uphold the Constitution and respect the rule of law in the lead-up to and following an election or referendum”, but Zanu PF insists political parties “have no right to direct uniformed forces to issue political statements”.

The MDCs demand an end to alleged military and police abuse as well as what they say is State-sponsored violence, but Zanu PF has argued it has no knowledge of such violence.

“We protest the use of the word ‘demilitarisation’. It is war,” Zanu PF negotiators declared in the roadmap.

MDC parties also want election monitors deployed six months before elections and six months after, but Zanu PF prefers observers.

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