Mugabe: Zim's biggest problem, says Makoni

HARARE - Zimbabwe's biggest problem is President Robert Mugabe and not the Constitution, former Finance minister and ex-Zanu PF politburo member Simba Makoni has said.

Makoni, once tipped to succeed Mugabe but now a fringe opposition leader, said this at a media briefing in Harare ahead of Saturday’s constitutional referendum.

The Mavambo/Dawn/Kusile leader said Mugabe thinks he is bigger than Zimbabwe, hence the need to boot out the 89-year-old at the next election.

“The economic meltdown, the abuse of Zimbabweans under Murambatsvina, the ‘short and long sleeves’ of 2008 and many other human rights violations in the past 33 years have not been a result of a weak Constitution.

“Our problem has been the person in the president’s office. He has not submitted himself to constitutionalism and constitutional provisions which ironically are in the current Constitution,” Makoni said.

The former Sadc secretary general pulled out of Zanu PF on the eve of the 2008 harmonised elections to form Mavambo.

Ironically, one of his backers then, another former politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa revealed in a newspaper interview last year that Makoni’s move was meant to split votes and save Mugabe from outright defeat by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Makoni yesterday said Zimbabwe needed a more sensitive leader and the country’s constitution should have provided for a 70-year age cap on presidential aspirants.

“We want a sensitive president who acknowledges division of labour and if you look at the reasons why we pulled out of Zanu PF, you would know that there has not been any movement in trying to reform that party.

“It has not been rational for many years for Mugabe to contest elections and it will not be rational now.
If that provision had been in the Constitution he would have walked a long time ago,” said Makoni.

He said government needed to agree to the demands of the international community if finance from donors for the referendum and elections are to be unlocked.

“The international community is willing to finance both exercises but they have standards. Standards that have been accepted by our colleagues in the Sadc region and beyond, only despots and dictators have frowned at such democratic standards because they have a lot to hide and we are not sure our compatriots in the seat of power are willing to compromise on that,” Makoni added.

Meanwhile, Makoni announced that his party leadership had agreed to mobilise their supporters and membership to reject a draft charter crafted by a committee of Parliament commonly referred to as Copac.

 “Copac has not told Zimbabweans why they did not produce the best constitution but wants citizens to accept something that the parties are saying they would amend once they are elected.

“We have issues with discrimination in the death penalty, the gender balance in the election of legislators as well as the variance in the appointment of director general of the Central Intelligence Organisation in comparison to other heads of security arms of the State,” he said.

Makoni said there is no rationality in Copac deferring the Constitutional Court operationalisation for seven years as well as the contentious issue of running mates claiming they were only included for political expedience or to placate political parties that faced implosion.

“There is no reason why Zimbabweans should continue to pay for two vice presidents besides the fact that it is only meant to maintain peace and balance in some political formations that would disintegrate instantly if it is not implemented.

“We are embarrassed that in the 21st century one country makes a constitutional provision for another State without consultation. Section 72 of the draft provides for the former colonial power (Britain) to pay for the land we would have taken.

“It makes us a laughing stock of the world,” he said.

Makoni was part of Mugabe’s so called “war Cabinet” put together by the strongman at the height of the chaotic and often violent land reform programme in the early part of the last decade before disgruntlement set in.

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