Copac retreats over Mugabe age bar

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The Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) charged with rewriting Zimbabwes constitution has reportedly baulked at its push to include a clause barring candidates above 70 years from contesting the forthcoming presidential polls following protests by Zanu PF.

The former ruling party supporters accused the two MDCs and drafters of the new charter of sneaking in the clause to ensure its candidate, President Robert Mugabe (88), would not contest. If approved, the clause would have also automatically disqualified Zapu candidate Dumiso Dabengwa (73).

Copac said it had not yet deliberated on a reported age limit of 70. Instead, the committee dissociated itself from a leaked copy of the draft containing the alleged offensive clause.

The select committee has not yet deliberated on, among other issues, the age limit or the terms of office of the President. Neither Copac nor its co-chairs gave the information related to the substance of the Presidential qualifications or disqualifications to the Press as this is still work in progress, Copac said in a statement.

Part of the contested draft read: A person is disqualified for election as President if he or she has already held office for one or more periods, whether continuous or not, amounting to 10 years.

Zanu PF has already hinted Mugabe will not sign into law the new charter if it disqualifies him. Copac co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said:As long as I am in Copac, there is no way we are going to allow a draft which is detrimental to my party (Zanu PF) and its leader.

We are going to discuss issues to do with executive powers next week. What is contained in the draft document are proposals by drafters, but Copac is yet to take a position.