The Herald (Harare)

28 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Time to Wind Up Constitution Making

We welcome the setting up of a committee to expeditiously resolve areas of contention in the substantive report of the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference that was held recently in Harare.

As we reported in our issue yesterday, leaders of parties to the inclusive Government have agreed to form a committee comprising three Cabinet ministers nominated by political parties to speedily resolve areas of contestation in the constitution-making process.

The committee will also comprise of the three Copac co-chairpersons, Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Zanu-PF), Mr Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Mr Edward Mkosi (MDC), along with Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga who will sit in the committee as the convenor and chairperson.

It is high time the constitution-making process, that has been running since the inception of the inclusive Government, is finalised to pave way for the holding of elections scheduled for March next year.

We believe we speak for many when we say people are now tired of the long-drawn process especially as they made their voices heard during that outreach programme.

Zimbabweans spoke in their millions over what they wanted included in the envisaged new constitution, but some parties in Government, in their wisdom or lack of it, chose to ignore what the people said in favour of so-called "international best practices."

We once again urge the committee that has been set up to be guided by the National Statistical Report in resolving the areas of divergence because if they depart from what the people said then the resultant draft constitution will be rejected by the people at the referendum.

Let us give the people the constitution they want.

The impending harmonised elections are real, and cannot be wished away. The life of the current Parliament expires in March next year.

The field to be covered before the elections is vast and for the parties in Government that jointly enjoy the power of incumbency, the campaign should have started yesterday.

Election 2013 is big, it will be a throwback to March 1980 and 2008 when Zimbabweans chose leaders at all levels of Government, and any party worth its salt would be girding its loins right now for the battle of hearts and minds.

It thus comes as a surprise that at this late hour, some parties want to drag their feet in the hope of delaying elections instead of focusing on serenading the notoriously perceptive Zimbabwean voter.

With the advent of the inclusive Government all parties in Government have co-ownership of the election management system and electoral environment, hence the only threat they should dread is the voter who will stand in judgment over them in the ballot box.

The ownership began way back in 2004 after the adoption of the Sadc principles and guidelines on the conduct of democratic elections in Grand Baie Mauritius. Then Zanu-PF and MDC legislators debated and agreed on the implementation of the guidelines and principles that were duly applied in toto in subsequent elections.

The constitution-making process cries for conclusion, elections beckon with or without the new constitution.

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