The South African president, Jacob Zuma, is due report to SADC on the progress of constitutional negotiations in Zimbabwe.
Few politicians expect the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit, being held in Maputo, Mozambique, from August 17th, to resolve the impasse over Zimbabwe's new constitution, which is already almost 18 months overdue. A draft was completed by the Copac parliamentary committee in May, since when the two wings of the MDC have approved it. However, Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF has not; the party continues to draft amendments which it says reflect public opinion but which are largely designed to maintain the president's executive powers against the-modest-curtailment proposed in the draft.
Mr Zuma visited Harare on August 15th to prepare for the SADC summit and afterwards claimed that there had been good progress towards finalising the constitution and moving Zimbabwe towards elections. However, Mr Zuma's optimism is not shared by local political parties. Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister and MDC leader, insists that no party has a veto over the draft and that it should go directly to a stakeholder conference and then to a national referendum before year-end. Mr Mugabe and ZANU-PF insist that the draft must first be approved "by consensus" between Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai and the former leader of the minority wing of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara.
MDC leaders are hoping that SADC will confirm its interpretation of the agreement so that ZANU-PF is not permitted to make any amendments to the draft, but the reality is that the regional leaders have no power on the ground in Zimbabwe to force Mr Mugabe to agree. The probability therefore is that there will be further horse-trading between the three principals, and that Mr Tsvangirai will be forced to agree to some of ZANU-PF's demands. As it is, there are tensions within the MDC between the members who are unhappy that the draft maintains a strong executive presidency and those-who expect Mr Tsvangirai to become president next year-who are delighted. Overall, however, the party is supremely confident of winning an easy victory at the polls next year, and MDC pragmatists are therefore in a hurry to get the constitution approved, saying that once installed in power they will be able to change it. Accordingly, they are likely to be prepared to make concessions to Mr Mugabe.
Impact on the forecast
The continued disagreements over the formulation of a new constitution reinforce our forecast that polls will not be held until mid-2013 at the earliest.