Zanu-PF endorses Draft Constitution

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe's party Zanu PF politburo has endorsed about 97 percent of the draft constitution but will propose amendments to a few key clauses before giving the document its complete backing, party negotiator and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.

Chinamasa said thethe politburo, Zanu PF’s main decision-making organ outside of congress, had given the draft a thorough going over during a 14-hour marathon meeting that lasted until 2am Saturday morning.

\r\n

“It was a no-holds-barred debate and very robust. It was very constructive. We went through almost line by line (of the draft),” he said.

\r\n

“The major yardstick against which the document was viewed and critiqued was to the extent to which it remained faithful to the views of the people as expressed during the outreach.

\r\n

“Most of the debate drew us negotiators where there were deviations. We were asked to renegotiate and realign the document with the public views. On the whole, 97 percent of the document has been endorsed by the Politburo.”

\r\n

Some of the issues the party wants to engage its coalition parties over include national objectives and foundations; the significance of the liberation struggle; the appointment of provincial governors; the establishment of the constitutional court; the deployment of defence forces outside the country and the proposed restructuring of the Attorney-General’s Office

\r\n

“We are going to engage our colleagues in the management committee over the party position. Our expectation is they will accept these proposals to improve the draft,” Chinamasa said.

\r\n

“The Politburo and Zanu PF are committed to seeing this process through. A lot of resources have been expended; we cannot afford to see the process come to naught.”

\r\n

Zanu PF wants the charter to place “enough weight” on the country’s struggle against colonialism and imperialism. The party also felt that the liberation struggle was not clearly recognised as the cornerstone of the modern Zimbabwean nation.

\r\n

But Chinamasa said the politburo rejected outright the proposal relating to provincial governors and resident ministers who are currently appointed by the President. The draft proposes that the party with the highest number of seats in a given constituency should nominate two candidates, one of whom will be appointed by the President.

\r\n

 

\r\n

“This was rejected outright for the reason that it brings disharmony in a unitary state. It allows centrifugal forces to be in ascendancy as opposed to centripetal forces. The Politburo is of the strong mind that the status quo should be maintained,” Chinamasa said.

\r\n

“The clear understanding on provincial governors is that he or she is the representative of the President in a province and not of political parties. He or she is the link between the people in the province and the centre as headed by the President.

\r\n

“It is important that harmony and coherence be maintained in the interest of the country and development.”

\r\n

Zanu PF also objected to the proposal to give Parliament the power to approve the deployment of defence forces outside the country “because in defence matters, you do not do stupid things like that”.

\r\n

Chinamasa however, said he was confident that Zanu PF’s proposed amendments would be endorsed by its coalition partners.

\r\n

“We are going to engage our colleagues in the management committee over the party position. Our expectation is they will accept these proposals to improve the draft,” he said.

\r\n

“The Politburo and Zanu PF are committed to seeing this process through. A lot of resources have been expended; we cannot afford to see the process come to naught.”

\r\n

Meanwhile the MDC formations have also endorsed the document.

\r\n

Said MDC-T spokesman, Gabriel Chaibva: “Although there are some things that the MDC may have wanted included in the Constitution, the MDC respects the will of the people of Zimbabwe and the fact that some aspects of this Constitution had to be negotiated.

\r\n

“The party resolved that the people of Zimbabwe must be given opportunity to decide on the draft through a referendum.”

\r\n

MDC Secretary General Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga added: “We have endorsed the draft because it was a process borne out of negotiation.

\r\n

“We negotiated every full stop and every comma in the draft. So, we are very happy with the final outcome.”

\r\n

A new constitution is one of the main reforms ahead of elections to replace an uneasy coalition formed by President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai three years ago.

\r\n

The coalition was designed to prevent the country from tipping into wider conflict in the aftermath of the violent 2008 presidential election.

\r\n

The draft constitution will be put to a referendum leading to the new elections within 12 months.

\r\n

 

\r\n