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HARARE: A draft constitution in Zimbabwe that paves the way for an election this year curbs presidential powers and strengthens cabinet and parliament, which have been weakened under veteran President Robert Mugabe’s rule.
According to a final copy of the draft charter obtained by Reuters yesterday, the president will be required to exercise power in consultation with the cabinet, with decrees requiring its
The current constitution allows the president to issue decrees alone that can have the force of law for up to six months.
The new document also limits the president to two, five-year terms, starting from the next election. However this will not be applied retrospectively, so Mugabe — who has been in power for 32 years — could technically rule for another two terms.
Last week, the country’s two most powerful parties — Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change of rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — said they supported the draft, virtually ensuring its passage through parliament as early as next week.
If passed by parliament, it will be put up for a national referendum between March and April, a crucial step before elections required for this year under the power-sharing deal struck between Mugabe and Tsvangirai after the disputed 2008 polls.
Presidential powers to declare public emergencies and dissolve parliament have been diluted in the draft.
Parliament can also be dissolved only for “unreasonably” failing to approve the
national budget. Although the current constitution requires parliamentary approval in the declaration of emergencies, it requires only a simple majority. The president can currently dissolve parliament without parliamentary approval. Reuters