1 February 2013

Zimbabwe: New Constitution Will Safeguard the People's Future - Tsvangirai

press release

The New People driven Constitution will go a long way in safeguarding the people and the future of the country as it is a progressive document, President Tsvangirai has said.

Addressing thousands of mourners at the burial of a senior MDC official, Professor John Makumbe at Marenga Village in Buhera on Wednesday, President Tsvangirai said the new Constitution would go a long way in protecting the people.

"This new Constitution is a departure from one man rule to a democratic Constitution which means that a person can not rule on his own," said President Tsvangirai

"Zimbabwe has an opportunity to make progress again. The foundation has already been made. People should not be beaten. Chief Makumbe should be on the fore front of denouncing violence in the area. If all traditional leaders denounce violence we will not have problems in the country," he said.

The new Constitution was agreed on by the Principals in Harare on 17 January and is set to sail through Parliament next week before it goes for a referendum. President Tsvangirai paid tribute to the sterling work Prof. Makumbe did to ensure that the new Constitution was a success and described him as a unique person.

"We are proud of his achievements. John drafted this Constitution for the benefit of the country so that our children have a better future," said President Tsvangirai. He described Prof. Makumbe as a fearless fighter for human dignity who was arrested by the police on several occasions because of his stance against abuse.

"Here in Buhera he can be identified as one of the exceptional people who have raised the standards of living in Buhera. John touched the lives of so many people in an exceptional way. He played a role to assist the people of Zimbabwe to move forward. He was a hero of the people of Zimbabwe. He was a great man,' said President Tsvangirai.

Prof. Makumbe was earmarked to contest for the Buhera West constituency in the coming elections expected to take place in July this year. President Tsvangirai said the MDC was a democratic party which gave the people not individuals the right to nominate their leaders.

"In this district, the people have a right to choose a leader. As a party we have said that a leader should be chosen by the people," said President Tsvangirai. The late University of Zimbabwe academic was instrumental in the formation of the MDC and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).

The President took aim at individuals who wanted to take senior positions in the party when they were not there during the difficult times. "Do you know how the MDC was formed? Vanamuchekadzafa. When it was difficult you were not there," he said.

Prof. Makumbe was a renowned academic, researcher and politician who was always bold, courageous and had an unflinching personality who had several brushes with the State security agents for questioning their human rights abuses and corruption.

Because of his fight for a just society, Prof. Makumbe was a founder board member of a number of respected professional and civic society organisations including, the Zimbabwe Albino Association, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, from 2001 and 2002, Transparency International Zimbabwe, 1995 to 2004, Mass Public Opinion, Zimbabwe, Association for Crime Prevention and the Rehabilitation of the Offender, Trans World Radio Zimbabwe, Independent Media Trust and African Development Educators Network.

Prof. Makumbe's role in the provision of tertiary education at the UZ cannot be under estimated as most of the MDC senior leaders were taught by Prof. Makumbe at the institution where he had been lecturing since 1988 when he joined the institute as the chairperson of International Studies Project.

After completing his high school, Prof. Makumbe enrolled at the University of Botswana/Swaziland where he obtained a B.A in Administration. Between 1979 and 1980, he was the Assistant Dean of Students at the same university.

Upon his return to Zimbabwe, Prof. Makumbe joined the government as a training officer at Rowa Training Centre in Mutare until 1983. He furthered his studies and obtained an Honours degree in Administration at the UZ, an Honours LLD at the University of Birmingham in the UK and a Ph. D in Administration from the University of Tasmania in Austrialia.

During his academic career, Prof. Makumbe published a number of academic books, journal articles and reports. He was also a newspaper columnist for several local and international publications.

Prof. Makumbe died on Sunday at the Arcadia Medical Centre in Harare. He is survived by his wife, Virginia, and three children, Rumbidzai, Simba and Tawanda.

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