Monday, April 11, 2005

Mugabe's new Parliament

Zimbabwe's new parliament is set to be sworn in launching a legislative era that promises more gloom for Zimbabweans as ZANU-PF resumes this term with a constitution-amending two-thirds majority. Robert Mugabe continued on his resolute path towards consolidating gains secured by ZANU-PF in last month's parliamentary election by quickly making his appointments to the august house.

The Herald a.k.a. The Horrid (Government propaganda) reports that Mugabe only handpicked twelve of the thirty "non-constituency" parliamentarians. Zimbabwe's current constitution which will most likely receive a mud splash from ZANU-PF in the next two months, reserves one-fifth (30) of the parliamentary seats for presidential appointments. This time around, Mugabe has chosen to populate those seats as follows: ten traditional chiefs (mostly all ZANU apologists) elected by the chiefs electoral college, eight governors/residential ministers from Zimbabwe's eight provinces, and twelve non-constituency members.

What does this mean for the Zimbabwean people? It means more doom and gloom than the last five years when the MDC's presence in parliament derailed many of the draconian measures Mugabe has been long set on imposing. It is irrevocably clear Mugabe is going to make good on his promise to change the constitution to reintroduce an appointative senate and a ceremonial prime minister. The idea seems to be that whoever is appointed prime minister, is the heir apparent so that come 2008 when the presidential election is due, said candidate will have the advantage of familiarity with legislative mechanisms of Zimbabwe over his opponent(s). Even worse than this primary supposition is the highly likely probability that said prime minister will use his position to postpone or rob Zimbabweans of the opportunity to vote for their next leader. Doom and gloom I say.

Of the twelve appointments, two standout for the implications they carry. The first is that of Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former minister and ZANU-PF bigwig who was the speaker of the house in the last term. This appointment effectively reduces him to a minnow in the party in which he once had unbridled influence. Why such a drastic change? Blame it on ambition as documented in the post below.

Patrick Chinamasa, the country's justice minister (for now) is the second interesting appointment. His appointment effectively absolves him of any wrongdoing during his involvement in the failed attempts by the "young turks" faction in ZANU to catapult Mnangagwa to forefront of the succesion battle. Essentially what this means is he now is the new young favorite of Mugabe after Moyo fell out of favor with premier. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic between Moyo (in parliament as an independent) and Chinamasa manifests itself. These two are responsible for many of Zimbabwe's new and tougher laws which have effectively stifled freedom in the country. Moyo, now out of both the cabinet and ZANU is already promising to lodge hearty objections to many of the oppressive laws he helped pen either in whole or in part.

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