Hitches in Zimbabwe unity govt – Zuma

2012-08-16 07:59

Harare - South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday conceded challenges in Zimbabwe's unity government after meeting with leaders of the three main party leaders, days before a summit of regional mediator the SADC.

"I think there is progress that has been made but there are some hitches here and there," Zuma told reporters after he was briefed on reforms in talks with President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

"The issues are no longer as major as they used to be," he said, after his first visit since 2010 to the country.

After years of stalling, Zimbabwe last month finished a draft constitution that could send voters to a referendum by the end of the year, following deadly 2008 polls.

But Mugabe's Zanu-PF has changed some parts of the draft constitution, he told reporters without specifying.

"We've considered the draft and we've made amendments to the draft," he said.

"We'll meet as principals to exchange our ideas," he said about the unity government leaders.

The "hitches" referred to disagreements on the draft master law, Tsvangirai said after meeting with Zuma.

"It's mainly around the constitution," he said.

Intense regional pressure

Tsvangirai, however, said some of the disagreements would be discussed at the 15-nation Southern African Development Community summit in Maputo on Friday.

"It has been decided that this matter will be revisited at the summit," he said.

Mugabe, however, didn't "see any controversial issues" going into the summit.

The referendum on the law would be the first balloting since a 2008 presidential run-off that long-ruling Mugabe won - after his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the race in hopes of ending attacks that left more than 200 of his supporters dead.

Under intense regional pressure, they formed a unity government tasked with drafting a new constitution and enshrining greater political freedoms - with the ultimate goal of new elections.

Zuma's visit came "against a background of tremendous progress made in terms of the constitution-making process and in respect of the consolidation of peace in the country," Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba told AFP before the meeting.

He also met with Welshman Ncube, who heads a faction of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and whose son is married to one of Zuma's daughters.

The work of the compromise government has been characterised by frequent haggling over government posts and counter-accusations of violence.

The parties have both threatened to pull out of the power-sharing government.

Presidential powers

Early this year, Mugabe threatened to reject Zuma as negotiator if he showed any bias in his mediation.

Zuma will want to shepherd Zimbabwe toward its referendum, which if held later this year could lead to elections in 2013.

The draft constitution would rein in presidential powers while bolstering those of parliament. It would also set down a presidential term limit of 10 years and strip away the president's immunity from prosecution after leaving office.

The MDC has endorsed the draft charter as the best basic law in the country's history, adding that it would be a lost chance if the proposed constitution is rejected.

Mugabe's Zanu-PF has said it wants parts of the constitution amended before it is passed - particularly on issues of who can receive citizenship and how provincial governors are appointed.

  • larry.piggott1 - 2012-08-16 08:12

    There goes JZ again, trying to sort out International and regional problems, when his own Country is sinking through a total lack of leadership.

      kevin.watson.7906 - 2012-08-16 08:26

      At least finding a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis might have a positive impact on South Africa.

      colin.dovey - 2012-08-16 08:41

      I watched last night when Zuma shook hands with Mugabe - Mugabe turns toward the cameras first, and then half-heartedly takes Zuma's hand - Zuma is NOT the right person to sort out Mugabe - Mugabe is a tyrant and Zuma is NOT a leader or even a negotiator.

      john.pope.75491 - 2012-08-16 11:44

      These leaders like JZ and Bob, have mastered the art of procrastination , B@ll$h!t, and have reached a stage where they find it almost impossible to tell the difference between lies and the truth.

  • paulvernonza - 2012-08-16 08:22

    "Progress and Hitches" what a load of bull Mugabe and his cronies have been stringing you all along, nothing will come of this. 5 years plus of "quite diplomacy" more like a smoke and mirror show. Translate the Buzz words "progress" = procrastination . "Hitches" = nothing substantial or of significance but yet noteworthy.

      goldwright - 2012-08-16 11:46

      True, since SA have been "mediating" in the Zim sitiuation, Mugabe/ZPF would tell outsiders one thing, and then just carry on intimidating and putting the fear of God/the ancestors etc into the opposition, and no doubt they will carry on doing so. Mugabe doth speak in forked tongue.

  • neville.chamberlain.509 - 2012-08-16 08:31

    When it comes to some of the worst leaders the world has ever had Jacob Zuma is right up there with King Leopold II, Emperor Nero and bumblimg idiots such as George W Bush and more gaffe prone than Prince Phillip. To proclaim that there are "challenges" for the Zimbabwe Government must be the understatement of the year - it is totally disfunctional and is a power contest between ZanuPF (specifically the JOC) and the MDC, nothing more, nothing less. With 1.6 million Zimbabweans looking at imminent starvation and a further 4 million "economic refugees" in other countries and no clear path as to how to rectify the situation it is anything but insignificant "challenges" that Zuma wishes to infer

      joyce.kweyama - 2012-08-16 09:19


      neville.chamberlain.509 - 2012-08-16 10:37

      @Joyce - the fact that Mbeki was educated and well spoken may well be the reason for his removal. He spoke DOWN to people, not TO people and let us be honest and frank here - the majority of ANC supporters are not the sharpest tools in the shed. In fact the Mbeki brothers may be an extreme abberation - being Rhodes scholars among others As for dropping Zuma - well I think the majority of us would love to but with party politics being the order of the day, that is not really our prerogative now is it?

      eric.d.dube - 2012-08-16 11:42

      @Neville, the uneducated hate the educated its as simple as that.

  • peter.jefferies.90 - 2012-08-16 08:45

    WTF qualifies JZ to comment on anything?? He has no clue about running a country and I often wonder if the man is even educated! JZ rather stay out of other countries you have already come close to stuffing up your own country lets not do the same to others!

      jurie.nel.3 - 2012-08-16 11:18

      Newspaper reports a few years back said that his formal schooling ended at standard three (the current grade five). I do not remember whether or not standard three was actually passed. Beyond that, he would be self-educated.

  • ian.flack2 - 2012-08-16 09:13

    There's only one hitch from what I can gather..........

      colin.dovey - 2012-08-16 09:27

      With Zooom's Spear, that hitch could be Alfred Hitchcock - He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres :-)

  • grant.montgomery.5074 - 2012-08-16 11:15

    ZANU-PF were voted out of power yet Mugabe refuses to budge. What hope is there for a solution in Zimbabwe? So much for Mbeki's 'African solutions for African problems'. And to think Mbeki was hoping for the Nobel peace prize. I'm ex Zim and I can't see a solution for the country. One black Zimbo said, "What is the point of a change in government, whoever takes over will be just as bad?"

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