The Herald (Harare)

17 January 2013

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Walks Out On Cabinet Team

Photo: Parliament of Zimbabwe
Parliament of Zimbabwe

MDC-T yesterday walked out of a Cabinet Committee meeting on Constitution-making after parties disagreed on whether or not to adopt devolution. The committee would now appear before the principals this morning, who would be driving the process after it failed to find common ground on several issues.

Yesterday's meeting sought to break the deadlock stalling the completion of the Constitution-making process before coming up with a report that should have been presented to the principals.

Principals to the Global Political Agreement on Monday ordered the committee to submit the report yesterday for them to map the way forward.

The seven-member committee, chaired by Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, includes Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Regional Co-operation and Integration Minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Copac co-chairpersons Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Zanu-PF), Mr Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Mr Edward Mkhosi (MDC).

Minister Chinamasa last night confirmed the walkout by MDC-T.

"We hit a snag. The MDC-T walked out of the meeting after there was a disagreement on whether it should be devolution or decentralisation," he said.

"There was disagreement on whether or not there should be 10 elected members of the provincial council and the appointment procedures for provincial governors, that is whether or not the President should appoint them.

"As a result of the deadlock, we are going to appear before the principals tomorrow (today) at 10:30am."

MDC-T spokesperson Mr Mwonzora said they never walked out, insisting that the negotiations broke down as Zanu-PF was reneging on issues agreed on earlier.

"The meeting broke down because of devolution The disagreement was not on substance, but the term. They wanted to call it decentralisation, but there was never such a term during the outreach programme. We are now going to the principals," he said.

Mr Mwonzora accused Zanu-PF of delaying the process.

"To say we walked out is stupid propaganda because we were about to compile a report for presentation to the principals when (Minister) Chinamasa reneged," he said.

Minister Chinamasa said while there was agreement on some issues, there was still disagreement on the structure of the Attorney-General's Office.

"We are going to present areas of disagreements to the principals which include whether or not the President should have power to dissolve Parliament," he said.

"There is also disagreement on whether chief executive officers or heads of statutory boards should have term limits."

Minister Chinamasa said on the issue of running mates, the parties agreed that the party holding the presidency would choose a nominee who would lead for five years should there be a vacancy.

"In the event of a vacancy arising, a nominee of the party of the former president should come in, but would lead for five years before kick-starting the running mate position."

There were chances that the meeting would bring a breakthrough as indications were that Copac co-chairpersons had found common ground on most issues.

The Constitution-making process that was expected to take about 18 months has taken over three years because of bickering among the political parties.

The MDC formations endorsed the draft in its entirety, but Zanu-PF proposed amendments that were taken to the Second All-Stakeholders conference.

The revolutionary party argued that the draft had deviated from the people's views gathered during the outreach programme.

MDC formations have mainly been basing their preferences on "international best practice", while Zanu-PF used the outreach national report that outlines the number of times an issue was raised by the people.

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