President Tsvangirai has described the completion of the draft new Constitution as a defining and historic moment for the people of Zimbabwe.
The MDC leader who is also Zimbabwe's Prime Minister said this following the conclusion of long-drawn-out negotiations on the draft Constitution which culminated in a pact among the MDC, Zanu PF and Welshman Ncube's formation in Harare on Thursday.
"This is, without doubt, a defining moment in our nation's political, social and economic trajectory," said President Tsvangirai.
The conclusion of the draft Constitution last week shows that MDC is on course with its resolutions made on 19 March 2006 at the Second National Congress in Harare. The resolutions made then included dragging Zanu PF to the negotiating table, the formation of a transitional
government which would lead to the stabilisation of the economy, attending to the issues of legislative reforms to enable the holding of free and fair elections, drafting a new people- driven Constitution.
The country is now at the stage where it has a draft Constitution awaiting a referendum and finally the holding of free and fair elections.
The President said the journey the people of Zimbabwe have travelled up to the critical point of having a new Constitution has been "long and arduous". "Indeed, there were occasions when it seemed there was no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. However, true to their nature, the people of Zimbabwe demonstrated grit, determination and will power to create this landmark moment in the country's history," said President Tsvangirai.
"The nation's collective patience has been severely tested. However, the people of Zimbabwe refused to entertain the idea of failure. We are a nation of courageous fighters and we have demonstrated our capacity for resilience and endurance, fuelled by an intrinsic desire to change our circumstances for the better," said President Tsvangirai.
The process in having a fresh Constitution has been highly demanding since the roadmap to a new Constitution started in April 2009 with the creation of a Parliament Select Committee (Copac). Hon. Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC national spokesperson is the cochairperson of Copac.
The process was delayed on several occasions as senior Zanu PF politicians and their supporters blocked and disrupted Copac gatherings. During the First All Stakeholders' Conference in 2009, senior Zanu PF politicians, Saviour Kasukuwere, Joseph Chinotimba and Patrick Zhuwawo disrupted the meeting in Harare as they danced on top of tables and threw chairs.
Similar unruly events were to follow across the country as Zanu PF supporters went about disrupting some of the outreach meetings. Again after the historic signing of the draft Constitution on July 18 last year, Zanu PF surprised all when it somersaulted and came up with 266 changes it wanted incorporated into the draft.
It threatened to disrupt the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference if its changes were not incorporated into the draft charter.
However, despite these challenges faced from Zanu PF, President Tsvangirai said the new Constitution remained a critical charter that defines the relationship between the government and its people. "It is the documentation of the social contract between the government and the people. It is through the Constitution that the people confer their authority on the government and, in doing so; they also define the terms by which the government must exercise that power," he said.
"The people of Zimbabwe have, therefore, created a document that responds to their demands for transparency, accountability and good governance".
"Nevertheless, as we look ahead, the true test lies in the implementation of the constitution. We can have the most beautifully worded constitution in the world but unless there is serious commitment to implement and uphold its basic tenets and values, we will have achieved nothing.
It is important, therefore, as we move forward, that we embrace the spirit of constitutionalism. This means that we must remain faithful to the principles and values of the new constitution.
We must uphold the provisions of this constitution even if the outcome does not favour those who hold the reins of power. In short, government must beguided by and uphold the rule of law; that the law is supreme and better still, that the principles and values that underpin the law are even more supreme," said President Tsvangirai.
Meanwhile, Hon. Eric Matinenga, the Constitutional Affairs minister said the three political parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) had managed to resolve all the outstanding issues.
"We managed to resolve the outstanding issues that include executive powers, devolution, composition of the Attorney General's office, National Prosecuting Authority and establishment of the Constitutional Court," Hon. Matinenga said.
"People talked about the imperial powers of the president. This issue wetted the collars of some who were saying that you want to reduce the powers of a president to the level of a senior clerk. Some dark forces in Zanu PF were heavily against the new draft Constitution and wanted the current Constitution amended 19 times since 1980, which had turned the Zanu PF regime into dictatorship.
Hon. Matinenga said in the new Constitution, the President retained the right to declare war or peace without having to wait for Parliament's approval to cater for instances when the legislature is in recess. "However, any declaration of war may be revoked by Parliament through two-thirds majority. In such a case, if the President receives advice from Parliament to stop the war, he has to disengage," said Hon. Matinenga.
Under the new draft, a sitting President may only dissolve Parliament under special circumstances according to Hon.Matinenga, "such as, when the legislative assembly fails to pass a budget rendering the executive non-functional."
He said the principals had agreed on the issue of devolution, that political power to be shared equally among the entire provinces and the nomination of running mates.
A Constitutional Court and a National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) separate from the Attorney General (AG) will be established. The NPA will have the same authority as a High Court Judge. A National Reconciliation Commission will be set up to resolve all political conflicts and it will be supported by an enabling legislation.
The new draft is expected to be debated in Parliament when it opens before the gazetting of the draft. After that a referendum will be held before it is gazetted and introduced into Parliament. Soon after these processes, the new democratic Constitution will lead to the holding of free, fair and non-contestable elections.