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Fresh elections if inclusive Govt does not materialise
Posted: Saturday, December 13, 2008

No. 19 Bill to be gazetted today... Fresh polls likely if inclusive Govt does not materialise

December 13, 2008
The Herald

Constitutional Amendment Number 19, giving legal effect to the inclusive Government agreement, is expected to be gazetted today, but if it fails to become law, fresh elections will probably have to be held, Zanu-PF said yesterday.

Without the inclusive Government, the present division of power, with Zanu-PF holding the executive and majority in the Senate but the MDC formations holding the majority in the House of Assembly, is unlikely to work.

Cde Patrick Chinamasa, who is Zanu-PF's negotiator in the South African-facilitated talks, said it was up to the parties to ensure the Bill became an Act otherwise the country would have to go back to elections.

The Bill, agreed on and initialled by negotiators from Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC in South Africa on November 27, is expected to be published in an Extraordinary Government Gazette today.

That section of the Bill relevant to the formation of an inclusive Government will only subsist for as long as the agreement remains in force.

"As the public would know, no party in Parliament has a two-thirds majority to ensure passage of the amendment. This means that the Bill will only become law if fully supported by all signatories to the September 15 agreement.

"The gazetting of the amendment is a clarion call to all political parties to demonstrate their commitment in letter and spirit to the inter-party political agreement. If everything goes according to plan, the Bill can be put before any of the Houses 30 days following its gazetting.

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

"The current Constitution requires that we hold harmonised elections and so we will have to go back to the people to elect councillors, House of Assembly representatives, senators and a President," Cde Chinamasa said.

Earlier this week, President Mugabe hinted at the possibility of fresh elections should the agreement fail to get off the ground.

He pointed out that it was important for the nation to understand that the Bill was not a Zanu-PF project and all parties signatory to the agreement were co-owners of the proposed amendment as demonstrated by the fact that all the negotiators had initialled it.

Cde Chinamasa also slated those people who were calling for President Mugabe to step down.

"I must reiterate that the March 29 elections produced a hung Parliament and no winner in the presidential race, necessitating a run-off on June 27. There is no valid constitutional or political basis to justify strident statements for the President to step down, especially in light of the developments pertaining to the Bill," he said.

However, Cde Chinamasa questioned the opposition MDC-T's commitment to making independent decisions in the context of political developments in Zimbabwe, though he fell short of saying he expected little co-operation on the Bill in Parliament.

He said: "MDC-T has demonstrated to all and sundry that it cannot take individual decisions or positions. It has to consult the British, the Europeans and the Americans before it makes any decisions affecting the destiny of the nation."

The Bill will most likely be tabled before Parliament in mid-January and President Mugabe could sign it into law by February if it gets the backing of all the parties.

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