The Herald (Harare)

23 October 2012

Zimbabwe: 'Principals Have the Final Say'

The principals in the Inclusive Government will have the final say on the draft constitution as they are the ones who conceived the Global Political Agreement that resulted in the ongoing constitution making process, President Mugabe said yesterday.

The President, who is Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, said this yesterday while officially opening the second all stakeholders' conference at the Harare International Conference Centre.

The President also urged participants to ensure that their views were reflected in the draft as captured in the National Statistical Report.

He reiterated that the harmonised elections would be held by the end of March next year.

"Ivo vatatu vamurikuona ava (President Mugabe, PM Morgan Tsvangirai and DPM Arthur Mutambara) tisu takanyora chinhu ichi chinonzi global agreement. Ndisu zvakare takati kumember dzedu dzeparliament hapana anoti kwete mese munosungirwa kuvhota (in parliament for constitution amendment number 19) zvino idemocracy iyoyo?" the President sarcastically asked.

"...the global agreement came into being that day and I am saying this because sometimes parliament thinks that it is full of sovereignty that it should control the acts of the principals, hazviite.

"There are limitations of course, the principals cannot do everything but they are the executive, they are the ones who agreed that 'no we cannot have the Kariba draft,' we must have a people driven constitution," he said.

President Mugabe also took a swipe at Copac co-chairs Mr Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Cde Paul Mangwana (Zanu PF) for their role in promoting the idea that the principals had no role to play in the process.

"Ndiri kutaura zvese izvi nekuti panevamwe vavakuti ah, ko maprincipals avakuda kuti ivo ndivo vanoongorora. It is so because we are the ones who caused everything. Mwonzora naMangwana manga makuvhaira, sometimes people fail to know where power is derived from. The principals are the ones who caused this exercise and we are interested in it being done properly. We say it should be a people driven exercise," he said.

President Mugabe said it was the onus of all participants at the conference to ensure that the draft corresponded with what the people said during the outreach.

"We want all of you now to examine that draft vis a vis the report of what you said. You will say yes or no, yes, our views have been captured or no our views have not been captured, why have they not been captured? What is it that you said that has not been captured, record it...that is why the three of us are here," he said.

President Mugabe said the participants should deliberate peacefully, urging them to emulate their leaders that have managed to work together.

He had the gathering in laughter when he said he was even working together with Prof Mutambara despite the deputy prime minister being critical of him and led violent demonstrations as a student leader at the University of Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe said debate on methodology to use in collating people's views was meant to confuse people and said it was important to stick to what the majority said.

He said just like in elections, the majority view should prevail.

President Mugabe urged delegates to exercise tolerance and work in harmony in debating the draft constitution.

"Let us be peaceful in our conduct, let us shame our detractors who think Zimbabwe cannot solve her problems without violence. You know everywhere we are being praised in Africa because of our literacy, which is 92 percent. We are very educated in all kinds of disciplines.

"Settling things through fists instead of intellectual dialogue is primitive. Our intellectual level should lift us to where we use dialogue to reach agreements or disagreements.

"We have philosophers. We have them all. Oncologists, epistemologists..., we have them all but if we go back to violence zvinokoromoka. We at the top, we, we, we, are responsible for giving directions to those at the bottom," President Mugabe said.

On elections, the President said they would be held by the end of March as he had earlier pronounced.

"There will certainly be elections in March. Hatinyangire vanhu, there will certainly be elections in March next year," he said.

He said it was important for Zimbabweans to respect each other by exercising tolerance of each other's political affiliation.

The President said there was no need for Zimbabweans to spill each other's blood over political differences.

"Let our campaigns be clean. Kana usingandide haundide, kune vamwe vanondidawo," he said.

He said the constitution that would be produced at the end of the process should reflect on the past, the present and future aspirations of the nation.

The President said the Lancaster House Constitution with its amendments had become irrelevant to current needs.

Speaking at the same occasion PM Tsvangirai said the conference was an important step in the constitution making process.

"Today, we are on the threshold of history as we mark an important step towards the making of our own Constitution. The importance of today's occasion must not be lost in the needless pursuit of petty party interests at the expense of what is good for this country and future generations.

"Today we mark a giant leap forward towards fulfilling and implementing one of the key reforms that we agreed under Article 6 of the GPA, which is now part of the Constitution of Zimbabwe," he said.

PM Tsvangirai also called for peace and harmony during the deliberations.

DPM Mutambara also said the new constitution if adopted should reflect on the history of the country.

"Let us learn from our history pre-colonial, colonial the liberation struggle and our post independence history. These must influence the constitution for posterity," he said.

DPM Mutambara said the constitution should also uphold the wishes of ordinary people and protect them from the excesses of those in power.

The conference will end today with the over 1 300 participants having grouped into 18 thematic groups of issues in the constitution.

The groups will deliberate on the Copac draft in relation to the views of the people as contained in the National Statistical Report.

The other documents being used include the document used on gap filling and agreed constitutional issues.

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