5 February 2013

Zimbabwe: NCA Tells Zimbabweans to Vote No in Constitution Referendum

Zimbabwean Justices

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has said 'No' to the proposed new constitution.

The NCA, one of the leading pressure groups in the country, announced at a press conference on Tuesday that they would ask Zimbabweans to reject the COPAC draft because it is 'neither people-driven nor democratic.'

Chairperson Dr Lovemore Madhuku told journalists they are confident they will get enough support to defeat it at the referendum.

The law requires that for the proposed constitution to pass into law, more than 50 percent of the voters must support it.

COPAC co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora gave notice to Parliament that they would present a copy of the draft and a full report of the constitution making process to both the lower and upper houses on Wednesday.

Parliament is expected to debate and pass the draft constitution without any amendments. An MDC-T MP told SW Radio Africa that parties to the GPA, who all support the proposed new constitution, have the ability to muster more than enough consensus to get the constitution passed at referendum.

Some observers believe the document has attractive clauses and say that it reduces the power of the president, to some extent, and expands parliamentary oversight over the executive, on some issues.

But the NCA cited 24 reasons why this constitution should be rejected. One reason being that this is a constitution imposed on Zimbabweans by just three political parties.

The Madhuku led group also alleges that the proposed constitution still leaves all the power in the president, who is allowed to do what he or she wants.

Other problems they have with the draft is that it increases the size of Parliament to 350 MPs (270 national assembly and 80 senators). The NCA say that Zimbabwe has, 'no resources for such a huge legislature.'

Madhuku said the NCA would use their structures to mobilize their followers to reject this document, but they also said it was important that Zimbabweans understood the contents of the draft and they want all voters to fully grasp the provisions it contains.

'POSA must be suspended to allow for uninterrupted campaign meetings. If this is not done, the NCA reserves its right to campaign without being restricted by POSA. We also want equal access to the public media by both the YES and NO voices,' Madhuku said.

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