8 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Copac Draft Takes Away Power From the People - Madhuku

Zimbabwean Justices

THE National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has demanded that ordinary Zimbabweans be given a minimum of two months to fully grasp provisions of the draft constitution, which it described as "a selfish document by politicians", before making a choice in the referendum.

NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku told a press conference in Harare on Tuesday that the draft constitution retained all the powers of the president, giving away the "people's power permanently".

This was after Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora gave notice to move a motion in the House of Assembly to adopt the report on the progress and outcome of the constitution-making process and the draft constitution this week.

"The NCA calls upon the inclusive government to ensure that the referendum is credible and that the people be afforded a free and fair framework to exercise their choice over the matter," said Madhuku.

"Our lawyers have been instructed to make an urgent challenge in the Supreme Court should a shorter period be given."

He demanded provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) be suspended to allow for campaign meetings saying the NCA reserves its right to campaign without being restricted by Posa should its demands be rejected.

"It's not about what people wanted or said but about the selfish and personal interests of politicians. We need a constitution that would survive the test of time and not a deal for current politicians.

Politicians spent four years and squandered over US$50 million to produce a constitution for themselves. If people say "yes" to a constitution being imposed by political parties, they will be giving away their power permanently and politicians will never respect the people and the country will not develop," he said.

Madhuku said the constitution gives too much power to the president who will be head of state with unlimited power, head of government and commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

The president appoints all ministers and deputy ministers without the approval of parliament, and there is no limit on the number that can be chosen.

"The president alone constitutes the cabinet (Sec 105). The statement in the draft constitution saying the president exercises executive authority 'through cabinet' has no value because the cabinet is the president's baby. All cabinet ministers are hired and fired by the president at his/her pleasure. The president is allowed to appoint up to three ministers from outside parliament. This is bringing back appointed non-constituency MPs (Sec 104(3)."

Madhuku said the president still appoints all ambassadors without consulting anybody and has the final say over the appointment of all permanent secretaries (Sec 205).

The NCA also said the president had the final say over the appointment of all judges (Section 180) and though there is provision for interviews, the president has power to refuse to appoint any of those recommended.

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