22 August 2012

Zimbabwe: Principals Get Zanu-PF Amended Draft

Photo: allafrica.com
Zimbabwe statehouse: The final draft of the constitution - with the most significant reforms aimed at political and legal systems - needs to be finalised in preparation for a referendum.

Principals to the Global Political Agreement are now seized with the draft Constitution incorporating proposed amendments by Zanu-PF, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa said yesterday.

President Mugabe handed over the amended draft to the other principals after the Cabinet sitting yesterday.

"The principals are now seized with the proposed Zanu-PF amendments and I am encouraged with the spirit with which the leaders of Government received the Zanu-PF-approved amendments from His Excellency President Mugabe," said Minister Chinamasa, who is also a member of the Copac management committee, a forum set up by the principals.

"The President handed over the draft to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and MDC president Welshman Ncube.

"I am very optimistic that we will be able to conclude this matter and put it behind us and go for a new challenge."

Minister Chinamasa said parties in Government were supposed to work together over the proposed amendments so that the country could move towards the referendum and subsequently elections.

He said a lot of resources and time had been expended in the constitution-making process, thus it was supposed to come to fruition.

"It is the desire of Zanu-PF that these energies should not have been expended in vain and that we should see this process up to the referendum so that we have a new Constitution.

"If we miss this opportunity, it won't come back again, meaning we would have lost it for another generation to come. I am hopeful that with the trust we have nurtured among the political parties in Government, this will come to fruition through a meeting of the minds of all of us over these Zanu-PF-proposed amendments," he said.

Minister Chinamasa, who is also a GPA negotiator, said progress in the constitution-making process would guide the crafting of the roadmap to the next harmonised elections.

"The expectation is that we finalise the Constitution so that it doesn't remain contentious as we go to the next elections. We should go to those elections on the basis of a new constitution," he said.

Minister Chinamasa said the proposed amendments by Zanu-PF were in line with what was gathered during the outreach programme.

He said the amendments sought to clarify the grey areas left by the management committee, adding they were in the people's interests.

"I am very grateful to the Politburo for the thoroughness they had in interrogating the management committee draft. This has led to the production of what I consider better than the draft that was produced by the management committee.

"Some of the amendments touch on dual citizenship, death penalty, role of the youths and their rights and empowerment issues for our people.

"During the outreach, what came out very clearly was the public's abhorrence of same-sex marriages, thus the proposed amendments bring out to the fore that clear message from the outreach programme.

"There is also further clarification around the issue of succession, court structure, the Attorney-General and decentralisation," said Minister Chinamasa.

He said from the outreach, Zimbabweans said they wanted decentralisation of service and not devolution.

The management committee draft, Minister Chinamasa said, did not reflect the role and rights of the youths and empowerment of Zimbabweans.

He said the Constitution was also supposed to recognise that Zimbabwe came about as a result of the liberation struggle.

Minister Chinamasa said all arms of the State were expected to exhort Zimbabwe by promoting and defending the values of the liberation struggle.

He said it was also important for people to know that the management committee was not a creature of the GPA but principals.

"The management committee thus was acting as agents of principals to solve any problematic areas, as such, the committee does not report to Copac but to the principals. It was always known that negotiations by the management committee did not bind their principals that is, heads of political parties and parties themselves.

"When the management committee produced the draft, we handed it over to our principals who in turn handed it over to their top party organs.

"In the case of the MDC formations, it is their executive councils and in the case of Zanu-PF it is the Politburo," Minister Chinamasa said.

He said MDC formations had approved and endorsed the draft without amendments.

Zanu-PF was not compelled to do the same, he said.

Politburo members met about five times auditing the draft and the meetings sometimes went on as late as 2am the following day, while MDC formations reportedly met for less than one hour.

Zanu-PF felt some of the issues that had been raised by the people during the outreach had been omitted, with MDC formations allegedly smuggling issues that had not been raised during the outreach.

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