The Herald (Harare)

27 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Muchena Clarifies Copac Campaigns

PUBLICITY campaigns on the draft Constitution are not platforms for political parties to advertise their manifestos, but to educate Zimbabweans on provisions of the proposed supreme law, the Minister of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development Cde Olivia Muchena said yesterday.

Minister Muchena, who is part of Copac officials going around the country raising awareness on the draft and canvassing for a "Yes" vote, said this at Dema council offices where they addressed scores of residents on the draft constitution.

"We are here as Copac to advise you on what came out from the views we collected during the outreach programme. I am here as representative of Zanu-PF for Mutoko South and my colleague honourable Ian Kay from Marondera.

"Our purpose in coming to you as Copac is to explain the draft and not to sloganeer or anything to do with our parties," she said.

Mr Kay added that the constitution was a product of the collective efforts of Zimbabweans.

"This constitution was written by us as Zimbabweans which is why you find that its preamble talks about us as Zimbabweans and our aspirations," he said.

Turning to the contents of the draft, Minister Muchena said it was a progressive constitution that now contained a comprehensive Bill of Rights and promoted women's rights.

The team also held another meeting in Hwedza.

Copac co-chairperson Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said meetings were going on well countrywide ahead of the March 16 referendum.

"I attended meetings in Murombedzi and Mt Hampden in Mashonaland West and from what I observed the people are excited about the draft.

There has not been any incidents at the various centres from the reports we have received except that we have a challenge in providing enough copies of the draft to the public. We are still running around to see if we can get resources to increase the copies," Cde Mangwana said.

The meetings went on well in Harare at Zimbabwe Hall in Highfield and at Kuwadzana High School. Both meetings were fully packed and were addressed by Zanu-PF's Copac member Cde Flora Buka and her MDC-T counterpart Mr Innocent Gonese.

In Bulawayo, residents turned out in large numbers for the meetings. The two meetings in Bulawayo were in Barham Green and Small City Hall that saw residents engaging Copac facilitators on contentious provisions within the draft Constitution.

The residents were interested in the clarification of the provision on dual citizenship, which is enshrined in Chapter 3 of the draft Constitution.

Lupane West Member of Parliament Cde Martin Khumalo (Zanu-PF), who was heading the Bulawayo team, said it was important for residents to note that the Draft Constitution had more strengths than weaknesses.

"We are here to make you understand the core issues that this draft addresses. I have to mention to you that we can't change anything at this stage, but all your concerns will be noted and recorded," said Mr Khumalo.

His counterpart from MDC, Mr Gifford Sibanda said it would have been difficult for the country to produce a flawless constitution and the draft Constitution was the best they could arrive at.

"A good constitution is one document that one can look at and say 'this is a good constitution, but . . .' and someone else will be saying the same thing somewhere. This is because it is hard to balance all the diverse views of the people under one document," said Mr Sibanda.

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