The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Mixed Reactions to President's Statement

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Zimbabwean President Mugabe and PM Tsvangirai

THERE were mixed reactions from constitutional experts last week to President Mugabe's remarks that the Global Political Agreement was premised on the need to have credible elections and not to produce a constitution.

Political analyst and Zanu-PF legislator for Tsholotsho North Professor Jonathan Moyo said the GPA was only focused on creating a conducive environment for peaceful elections than the constitution.

Zimbabweans, he said, have over the years proved that they can hold peaceful elections with the current constitution.

"This is happening against the background of what was experienced between March 29 and June 27, 2008 and it is important that all of us including other political parties not in the Inclusive Government dedicate themselves to non violence," Professor Moyo said.

"What happened between March 29 and June 27, 2008 is an aberration not characteristic of who we are as Zimbabweans because we have proven before as recent as March 29 that we can have peaceful elections.

"The national environment now is decidedly against violence. There is no political party whether in the GPA or in XYZ can expect to win elections through violence, it has never paid and it will never pay."

Prof Moyo said Zimbabwe was not in a constitutional crisis thereby making it possible for the country to have credible elections using the current constitution.

He said during the constitution outreach programme the majority of Zimbabweans were satisfied with the current constitution.

Professor Moyo said the three political parties in the Inclusive Government had already negotiated and agreed on the Kariba draft but did not implement it.

He said it was absurd that the parties wanted to negotiate the current constitution when it was supposed to reflect the views of the people gathered during the outreach.

"It shows that the constitution is not an issue but used as a cover to push some political agendas. It is why it's prudent that we forget about the constitution process and get on with elections under our current constitution.

"We have eliminated violence and anyone who wants to use violence will be dealt with severely by the people," Prof Moyo said.

MDC president, Professor Welshman Ncube who was a member of the negotiating team said the new constitution was one of the major preconditions for elections.

"If the only problem was violence then why did we waste so much time discussing the constitution which was one of the items we touched on for a long time?" Prof Ncube queried.

"All the parties were in agreement that we needed a new constitution before the next elections because the number one priority for everyone was the constitution itself.

"That is the reason we didn't fix the date for the next elections because we said there are certain things we have to agree on as precondition premised on the constitution taking 18 months to be completed."

Parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs Advocate Eric Matinenga (MDC-T) said the preamble to the GPA was clear on the need for the new constitution before the next polls.

"The GPA must be read in its totality because it's just like any other agreement where people don't interpret portions of the agreement.

"There is not a single issue in the GPA that is not important. There are about 25 articles in the GPA and I think it would be sad if somebody only wants to look at one of the articles and ignore the rest," Advocate Matinenga said.

He said article six of the GPA was dedicated to the new constitution as a precondition.

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