21 January 2013

Zimbabwe: It's Time We Have New Constitution, Go for Polls

Photo: Parliament of Zimbabwe
Parliament of Zimbabwe


It is retrogressive socially and economically the world over for a country to be gripped by an election fever for years.

There are so many national processes whose implementation hinge on the successful holding of elections and at times people adopt a

wait-and-see approach which is detrimental to development.

Other national development partners' programmes are also affected as fears abound that they might be hijacked and used for political gains.

The political bickering among parties in the inclusive Government that saw the Constitution making process taking over three years instead of 18 months was finally buried last Thursday.

The principals and political party leaders in the inclusive Government should be lauded for resolving all the outstanding issues that stalled the constitution-making process.

The Thursday agreement, there is no doubt, is going to pave way for the completion of the new national charter and eventually see Zimbabwe conducting the harmonised elections anytime this year.

President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and the leader of the MDC, Professor Welshman Ncube, met at State House and received a report from the Cabinet committee tasked with resolving contentious issues.

We applaud the four leaders for rising above party politics, ironing out all the outstanding issues and directing the negotiating teams to incorporate all the resolved issues in the July 18 Copac draft constitution and complete the remaining processes.

The fact that the principals have agreed to chart the way forward is a welcome development and they should be saluted for that.

Emerging from the meeting at State House on Thursday, the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Mugabe said; "We are glad to say that we have come to the conclusion of the exercise. All parties are agreed, but sure there will be some "Ts" to cross and some "Is" to dot, but we are generally agreed to the finalisation of the draft."

PM Tsvangirai said the agreement was a defining moment for Zimbabwe.

"I would like to join President Mugabe in confirming that we have reached a defining moment. I am sure that the people's patience had been tested . . . but I am glad to say this concludes a long journey," he said.

"A Constitution is a social contract of the people, it is not about individuals and I am sure that this document will be a living document, Your Excellency, that will represent the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe," PM Tsvangirai said.

DPM Mutambara said the parties had found each other and compromised during negotiations and urged Zimbabweans to concentrate on issues that unite them.

"This was as a result of political will, where there is political will leaders are able to solve problems."

MDC president Prof Ncube said: "The meeting, which took place, ended in consensus on all issues outstanding in respect of the constitution of Zimbabwe.

"What is left now is to go and incorporate all agreed principles into the July 2012 draft with which we can take to the referendum as expeditiously as possible."

We also commend the contribution by some civic groups and individuals involved in the constitution-making process to make it an all-stakeholders driven journey.

Now that the political leaders have spoken, let no man or woman stand in the way to disrupt the conclusion of the constitution making process.

The President, yes he said, there are some "Ts" to cross and some "Is" to dot and this means some people are going to be tasked with the role of polishing up the agreed issues within given timelines. We urge those people to do their work diligently.

Stages that need goodwill to finish the process include incorporating the agreed issues by the principals in the July draft. After that the document goes to Parliament, will be taken to the people in a referendum, and Parliament will again consider it as a Constitutional Bill, debate it and if passed, will be sent for Presidential assent, becoming the country's supreme law. Elections will then be conducted under the new law, if Zimbabweans give it the thumbs up.

There is a need for the country to go to the polls soon so that Zimbabweans are governed by one political party to ensure policy consistency and implementation.

Other parties should be invited at the benevolence of the winning party to join Government, if it so wishes.

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