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Voting ends smoothly
Posted: Friday, April 1, 2005

Herald Reporter

Zanu-PF is not gunning for a two-thirds majority in Parliament in order to amend the Constitution in preparation for President Mugabe's retirement.

Speaking to journalists after he and the First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe had cast their votes at Cyril Jennings Hall in Highfield constituency yesterday, President Mugabe said his retirement had nothing to do with the two-thirds majority the ruling party is aiming for in the parliamentary elections.

"My retirement comes at its own pace; it will come for certain," Cde Mugabe said in response to a question on whether Zanu-PF was eyeing a two-thirds majority in Parliament to amend the Constitution in preparation for his retirement.

There had been wide unsubstantiated speculation that the ruling party was gunning for a two-thirds majority to amend the Constitution and prepare for President Mugabe's retirement.

Cde Mugabe said a major reason for constitutional amendment would be to re-introduce the Senate so that Parliament reverts to a two-chamber system, the Upper House and Lower House. Zimbabwe had such a system soon after independence but later abolished it.

But now people, including the opposition MDC, were of the view that the Senate should be re-introduced, President Mugabe said.

He said the MDC was also agreeable to the re-introduction of the Senate, which was suggested during earlier talks between the opposition party and Zanu-PF.

Cde Mugabe said this was despite the fact that the MDC had opposed the draft constitution sponsored by Government in 2000 which proposed the re-introduction of a Senate.

Asked how the senators would be chosen, he said that would be decided between the parties that would have made it into Parliament after the election.

"Those are some of the things to be debated. In fact, it (the reintroduction of Senate) is an outcome of discussions between the two parties (Zanu-PF and MDC)," Cde Mugabe said.

He hinted that the Senate would be made up of traditional chiefs, retired politicians and eminent Zimbabweans. The President said his eventual successor would be chosen by the Zanu-PF congress.

"The successor will be chosen by our congress," he said in response to suggestions he was grooming Vice President Joice Mujuru to succeed him.

Cde Mugabe said the two-thirds majority would also enable Zanu-PF to make other important constitutional amendments.

Commenting on the election, the President reiterated that Zanu-PF was poised for victory in the election and expressed confidence it would amass the two-thirds majority.

"I have just voted in order to increase the number of votes for Zanu-PF and we know that we are going to win. So there it is, it is going to be victory for us, by how much that is what we will want to see. Zanu-PF is never a loser," Cde Mugabe said.

He dismissed claims of intimidation by the MDC and reports that Government was using food as a political weapon, saying: "My response is that they are talking nonsense."

"There can never be anywhere else where elections can be as free as they are here."

President Mugabe repeated that Zanu-PF would not form a government of national unity with the MDC but would continue to work with the opposition in Parliament and could also hold discussions with it outside the legislature. He, however, stressed that the MDC should be a loyal opposition party.

The President hailed the peaceful election campaign and voting process, saying the violence that marred previous elections was instigated by the MDC through its endless misguided mass actions and demonstrations.

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