SW Radio Africa (London)

4 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Traditional Leaders Not Happy With New Constitution

Traditional leaders want to have an audience with President Robert Mugabe this week to discuss the contents of the new constitution, as they feel some of the clauses have made them powerless.

It's unlikely the chiefs would be able to convince Mugabe to make changes to the charter, which would need the support of other principals in the GPA to do so.

The traditional leaders told the state media over the weekend that they had been excluded from the administration of most land, except communal land, a move they argued had left them with no powers.

Douglas Mwonzora, the COPAC co-chairman representing the MDC-T, said there was no chance the draft will be subjected to any changes at all. COPAC will present the draft to parliament on Tuesday for debate and adoption, possibly by Thursday.

'We have taken note of their concerns but unfortunately as responsible citizens we couldn't take farming land, commercial farms for that instance and put them under chiefs. The chiefs want to move away from capitalism to feudalism and that's not right at all,' Mwonzora said.

Our correspondent in Harare, Simon Muchemwa, told us many people are surprised at the timing of the chiefs' complaints as they had ample time to study the contents of the draft, even before it went to the second all stakeholders conference last year.

Muchemwa said the problem lies with the fact that the chiefs aligned themselves to ZANU PF, and were told what to say by officials from the former ruling party.

'The chiefs and other ordinary members of the party received instructions from ZANU PF on what to say in the constitution. Most of what they said was not constitutional and ended up not being included in the new charter,' Muchemwa said.

'The chiefs, for reasons known to them, were being told what to say by ZANU PF. They never bothered to let their personal feelings known and they have to take the blame for that,' he added.

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