22 December 2012

Zimbabwe: MDC Prefers Current Constitution

The forthcoming harmonised general elections should be held under the current Constitution instead of the disputed Copac draft document with Zanu-PF amendments incorporated in it, MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube said yesterday.

"If the choice is between having Zanu-PF version of the new constitution and the current one, we say the elections should be held under the current Constitution," he said.

He said it was imperative that the nation understood that the MDC was not against the new constitution but was just opposing the proposed Zanu-PF amendments.

Prof Ncube said his party was against the proposed amendments that he claimed were meant to arm twist other parties to the Global Political Agreement.

"Under such circumstances we are saying let's have the elections using the current Constitution . . . Let's stay with the current Constitution," he said.

Prof Ncube, however, said despite conducting the elections using the current law, the constitution-making process would still continue until the country had a new supreme law.

"It's unavoidable to have a new constitution. Until we have a proper constitution, the people will continue agitating to have one," he said.

Both the MDC formations are against the proposed Zanu-PF amendments to the draft constitution. The two parties have already endorsed the document in its current form.

Zanu-PF audited the document word by word, sentence by sentence and chapter by chapter before coming up with some amendments submitted during the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference for deliberations.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo yesterday dismissed Prof Ncube's assertion saying there was nothing wrong with Zanu-PF's proposed amendments.

He said the party was committed to the successful completion of the constitution-making process.

" . . . However, we are comfortable with what other parties want . . . If that is their wish, it's good for us. President Mugabe has already said if we do not agree on the way forward and if the process continues to delay like this we will go with the current Constitution," he said.

Cde Gumbo, however, said the revolutionary party preferred the new constitution because the country spent millions of dollars on the process.

According to latest information from Copac, the constitution-making process has so far gobbled over US$50 million and more money is needed to complete the process.

"We prefer conducting the harmonised elections as a party using the new constitution. The country has spent a lot of money and the people have spoken on how they want to be governed through the outreach programme. If the MDC is comfortable with the current Constitution, they should say it out and the President (Mugabe) makes a proclamation of the election dates," he said.

Cde Gumbo said it was unfortunate that the MDC formation continued raising the matter as Zanu-PF amendments yet some of the issues were raised during the constitutional Second All-Stakeholders' Conference in October this year.

"Professor Ncube was there during the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference when all these issues were raised and they signed the documents containing the matters that are being discussed today," he said.

So far indications are that Copac will not produce a refined draft constitution any time soon as it emerged that there are 30 contentious issues giving leeway for President Mugabe to consider proclaiming dates for general elections next year using the current constitution.

President Mugabe gave Copac up to Christmas to complete the constitution making process, failure of which in terms of the law, he would dissolve Parliament and proclaim dates for general elections.

A ministerial committee comprising Cde Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu-PF), Mr Tendai Biti (MDC-T) and Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga (MDC), chaired by Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga has been set up to break the impasse.

Other conflict areas are whether the new law should provide for the appointment of a minister responsible for civil service. Zanu-PF also argues that the draft does not defend, protect and preserve the values of the liberation struggle.

The parties also differ on whether or not the Constitution should provide for the appointment of the Intelligence Services and whether or not the title should be Correctional Service or Prison and Correctional Services.

The parties also argue whether or not traditional leaders should be members of political parties among other issues.

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