Ruling Zimbabwe party to press ahead with reform


The ruling party in Zimbabwe vowed today to press ahead with the introduction of changes to the electoral laws, after a rare opposition victory yesterday.

The proposed amendments are viewed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as an attempt to curb the voting rights of millions of Zimbabweans living abroad - many believed to be opposition supporters - in presidential elections due in March.

The MDC, which holds slightly more than one-third of the seats in parliament, managed to defeat the proposed changes in a 36-22 vote yesterday, as few of the lawmakers from the ruling party showed up.

But the state-controlled Herald newspaper today reported the setback for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party was only temporary and a new vote would be held.

"Fortunately, the House is supreme and we in ZANU-PF ... will be coming in full force to correct the injustice," said the party's deputy information secretary, Mr Jonathan Moyo.

State radio news reported that ZANU-PF chief whip, Mr Joram Gumbo was calling all of his party's members of parliament, including ministers and governors, to attend today's parliamentary session "without fail."

Yesterday the Leader of the House, Mr Patrick Chinamasa, who is also the country's justice minister, described the MDC's parliamentary victory as "treacherous."

"From now on, I will run the house as a sole effort," Mr Chinamasa said.

He vowed to circumvent normal parliamentary procedures and re-introduce and pass the rejected measures within the next two weeks, along with a raft of other legislation the MDC says is aimed at stifling dissent.