20 May 2012

Zimbabwe: Civic Groups Threaten to Reject Constitution

Bulawayo — Civic groups in Matabeleland region have vowed to campaign for a NO vote during the constitutional referendum if the draft does not include devolution. Devolution of power was one of the issues that dominated debate during outreach meetings by Copac.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo last week ruled out devolution in the new constitution setting the stage for confrontation with civic groups and other political parties.

Zapu and the Welshman Ncube-led MDC have said they would force for a Sadc Extra Ordinary Summit if Zanu PF blocked "devolution of power" in the new draft constitution.

A report of the co-chairpersons of the select committee meeting held on May 14 reveals that "it was agreed that the provincial governors would be elected by an electoral college consisting of MPs and chairpersons of the Rural District Councils (RDC's) in the respective provinces."

The President would then officially appoint the governor.

Bulawayo Agenda executive director Thabani Nyoni said they were campaigning for the direct election of governors by constituencies and members of the provincial assembly that would head the provinces to ensure clear separation of powers between central and provincial government.

"Our position is very clear that we will campaign for a NO vote if there is no devolution or it comes as decentralisation," said Nyoni. "People in the outreach said they wanted directly elected governors and directly elected members of the provincial assembly for clear separation of powers between the central provincial and local government."

Effie Ncube, the director of the Matabeleland Constitutional Reform Agenda said his organisation would not support a constitution that furthered the marginalisation of other provinces.

"Devolution must be there because it is democracy, because it is what the people of Zimbabwe want, because it is what the people of Zimbabwe fought for," said Ncube. "People of Zimbabwe wanted to rule themselves, wanted democracy and meaningful participation."

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association coordinator Rodrick Fayayo said they were campaigning for a devolved state with directly elected governors for purposes of accountability.

"Copac should respect the people's wishes and not negotiate anything," said Fayayo.

Early this year, Mugabe rejected "devolution of power" saying Zimbabwe was too small for that and it would also divide Zimbabweans.

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