6 February 2013

Zimbabwe: NCA Isolated in Rejecting Draft Constitution

Zimbabwean Justices

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) could turn out to be the only civil society organisation urging a no vote on the draft constitution, sources in Harare said on Wednesday.

SW Radio Africa was informed that a group of civic leaders met in the capital on Tuesday to discuss the stance adopted by the NCA. Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the pressure group, had earlier in the day announced they would ask Zimbabweans to reject the COPAC draft because it was 'neither people-driven nor democratic.'

Madhuku told journalists his organisation was confident of getting enough support to defeat the draft at a referendum, expected at the end of March.

All parties to the GPA have said they will be campaigning for the approval of the draft. A source said the 'Yes' team brings together political rivals from ZANU PF and the two MDC formations, to form a formidable camp.

Others opposed to the NCA stance said that while the draft is not perfect it is much better than the existing Lancaster House constitution.

'There are improvements in the draft constitution, but the good has been mixed with some bad points that the NCA highlighted. There is word already that the CSO's will urge Zimbabwe to turn out in large numbers and vote for the proposed constitution,' the source said.

He said there is a belief that the forthcoming referendum gives the country an opportunity to end the long search for reforms.

'People in the CSO's are saying the time has come for Zimbabweans to make a decision that will lead to the re-birth of a new republic. They will campaign for all Zimbabweans to vote Yes so that the proposed constitution passes with an overwhelming majority.

'They fear that supporters of the draft constitution who will not vote will indirectly give a boost to the No camp,' our source added.

Meanwhile Douglas Mwonzora, the COPAC co-chairman representing the MDC-T, on Wednesday presented a draft copy of the constitution and full report of the exercise to Parliament. He was seconded by Paul Mangwana, the COPAC chair from ZANU PF. MPs from all sides of the House adopted the motion, triggering singing and ululation in Parliament.

It's believed by next week the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will effectively take over the baton for the last phase on the road to a new constitution, by preparing the public for the referendum.

The public vote has to take place within 60 days of the publication of the proposed constitution. ZEC will have 30 days to conduct civic education on the issue.

But if politicians don't abide by constitutional rights, it doesn't matter what is written in the new constitution.

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