The Herald (Harare)

25 October 2012

Zimbabwe: UN Hails Efforts Towards New Constitution

The United Nations has hailed local political parties for putting efforts to see the successful completion of the Constitution-making process. Speaking during the 67th anniversary of the UN in Harare yesterday, Resident and Humanitarian co-ordinator Mr Alain Noudehou acknowledged the imminent completion of the process.

"It's a complex process, but they have stayed on course and managed to take it where it is today," he said. "They are almost at the closing stages, looking at what has been done in the past two days."

Copac held the Second All Stakeholders' Conference on Monday and Tuesday with delegates proposing amendments to the draft constitution.

The drafting of a new Constitution is expected to lead to harmonised elections in March next year.

Mr Noudehou said the UN could only interfere in electoral processes of a country at the invitation of the government of that particular state.

"It is clear that elections are a national process and any engagement by the UN has to be taken after the granting of authority by the respective country," he said.

He said the UN would assess how to engage involved parties when approached.

"If possible, then we can give the support needed. There is nothing like United Nations observers, we can only monitor elections in cases we would have been requested to do so by the respective government."

Mr Noudehou said the UN would financially and technically assist in the forthcoming referendum if requested by the Government.

"They only requested for support during the Constitution-making pro-cess and through the United Nations Development Programme and other development partners we have offered financial and technical assistance."

Mr Noudehou said the UN provided "indispensable platforms" to tackle complex transnational challenges.

"These challenges include poverty eradication, promoting human rights, peace and security and providing humanitarian assistance," he said.

"As such, the UN is a place for action not only when crisis looms but also in the face of long-term development issues. The UN does this by pooling its global network of complementary resources, which go beyond the capacities of any individual government."

Mr Noudehou reaffirmed the UN's commitment to supporting Zimbabwe in its efforts to achieve its developmental objectives and the Millennium Development Goals.

Deputy Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhlukula said Government takes the leadership role in its activities and the UN would provide financial and technical assistance.

"Taking the constitution-making process, for example, it is a supreme law of any country and Government controls the process," he said.

"It is the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Treasury to approach development partners if they see the need."

Dr Ndhlukula said the spirit of partnership between Zimbabwe and the UN had been "strong" for many years.

"The UN has supported Zimbabwe in various sectors of our society and this was achieved through one of the UN's comparative advantages of being neutral and being a trusted partner.

"They remained supporting Zimbabwe even during the times of economic challenges when the other partners had pulled out and for that, they need to be given due respect and credit," he said.

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