Zimbabwe: Wednesday, 13 February 2013 - Issue 514

press release

The constitution issue has always been on the MDC pro-democracy agenda and the party is thus happy that a document has been released, President Tsvangirai has said.

President Tsvangirai was speaking during an engagement with members of the civic society concerning the draft constitution that has been produced. "We expect the referendum to be held in March. Our major concern is that the people of Zimbabwe are made aware of what is contained in the constitution. Now that is your role as civic society. Yes, Zanu PF has been telling its members that they produced a draft, but it is common cause that in 2006, one of the signposts on our roadmap was for us to have a new constitution for the people, by the people. It is a known fact that Zanu PF members lambasted the document even before it was produced. It is Zanu PF again which stalled the movement of the process so it is not important to politic around the new constitution. We want the people to know for themselves what's contained in the draft and therefore make a choice based on what they know," he said.

On the voter's roll, President Tsvangirai said ZEC will be accountable to the nation since it has a mandate of producing a new, credible voter's roll. "So there is going to be a whole month allocated for voter registration and inspection. All the 1 967 wards will have a ZEC member to ensure that people are registered as voters. We urge the people of Zimbabwe to participate in the elections because they have the prerogative of choosing their leaders," he said

President Tsvangirai said there is need to get all the people who were previously labelled 'aliens' to register and vote during this period.

As the country is nearing the end of the preparation of the new constitution, the onus is upon the people of Zimbabwe to endorse the document through a national referendum. The constitution was presented to parliament last week and COPAC is working on a simplified version and the major highlights.

According to Hon Mwonzora, the draft is being translated into vernacular languages. These will be given to MPs, civic organisations, churches and the society at large so that they have an appreciation of the document before they go out and vote.

"Our major concern as Copac is to ensure that the people understand what is contained in the document. We are not concerned about the outcome of the referendum, but that people should understand what they are voting for. The document is being translated, then we will engage every facet of society to make sure they understand what the document contains," Hon Mwonzora said.

After its publication in the government gazette, the civic society, MPs, political parties will then embark on a civic education programme. Then, tentatively, in March, a referendum will be held.

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