October 4, 2007

Reports: MDC and Zanu-PF agree on new constitution

Media from South Africa have reported that both the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition MDC have agreed on the need for a new constitution before next year's elections. The SADC led mediation talks between the MDC and Zanu-PF are believed to have reached a decisive stage in the negotiation process, where an agreement was also reportedly reached to substantively amend or repeal restrictive laws like the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). According to some reliable sources, the latest talks in Pretoria, have focused mainly on a new constitution, POSA, AIPPA, the media laws and the general political environment in Zimbabwe. The role of the police, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the army is expected to be the next important item on the agenda before the finalisation of the talks, expected for the middle of October.
The seriousness of the talks has been gauged by the presence of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai, who is leading an expanded team comprising almost his entire cabinet, known as the standing committee. One source said the decision by the MDC to participate in next year's elections hinges on the success of these talks. While Zanu-PF has all but agreed to some of the demands brought up by the MDC, the ruling party has however refused to let almost five million Zimbabweans living in the diaspora vote in next year's elections.
'I'm informed that a lot has been covered during these current talks and a lot more is expected to be covered before the end of October. But the major issue so far from the talks has been the refusal by Zanu-PF to let people living in exile participate in next year's polls,' said one source. South African President Thabo Mbeki is expecting the negotiating parties to conclude the talks before the end of October as he is expected to present to SADC a comprehensive report on the outcome of the negotiations. Political commentator Oliver Mudyarabikwa said it might be easy for Zanu-PF to tell the world it will repeal the restrictive laws, but might find it difficult to honour the pledge because they always thrive on violence and intimidation. (SW Radio Africa, London)

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