MDCs Gang-Up Against Zanu-PF

THE two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have teamed up against ZANU-PF as President Robert Mugabe's party strategises over the draft constitution.\r\n

ZANU-PF spin-doctors have been in overdrive mode to discredit the draft, claiming it failed to incorporate the views of the people collected during controversial outreach programmes that were marred by violence and allegations of participants being coached to parrot what President Mugabe’s party wanted included in the new constitution.

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ZANU-PF has raised a catalogue of objections over the draft, top among them being the perceived erosion of President Mugabe’s Executive powers in the draft despite its active participation in its formulation and crafting.

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The party is also objecting devolution of power, the establishment of a Constitutional Court, the deployment of defence forces outside the country needing parliamentary approval, the establishment of a national peace and reconciliation commission, the restructuring of the Attorney-General’s Office, the creation of a position of Prosecutor General and the nomination of presidential running mates, among other issues.

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Another politburo meeting to critique the draft was called yesterday after ZANU-PF’s supreme decision making organ met for nearly 24 hours last Friday perusing the document.

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ZANU-PF insiders said the party was likely to reject the draft and declare a deadlock, leading to the holding of elections under the old constitution.

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The two MDC formations are however, adamant they would put a formidable campaign against plans by ZANU-PF to sabotage the three-and-half year constitution-making process by campaigning for a YES vote at a national referendum expected in October.

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Nhlanhla Dube, the national spokesperson of the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, whose party, along with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T formation have overwhelmingly endorsed the draft, said the party made a decision on the constitution based on principle.

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“We have accepted that the draft is far from being a perfect document.

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“We are in fact more aggrieved than ZANU-PF in as far as giving up a lot of what should, in our view, have been closer to a good document. We have said that the compromises, which we have made were many and painful but we made them still because we realise that if we do not make headway in coming up with a new constitution then we would be complicit in forestalling democratisation of our country.

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“We have also been clear in our message around the constitution making process and without equivocation or prevarication that ZANU-PF is free to go and campaign for a NO vote on the draft.

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“It is, after all, the people who will decide what constitution they want and not political parties and politicians.

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“We will simply go out and explain why we made concessions and why we think that this draft represents incremental democratic gains,” he said. Douglas Mwonzora, the national spokesperson for the MDC-T, said his party’s national council, which is the highest decision-making organ in between congresses, sat last Friday to analyse the draft constitution and after extensive deliberation it was resolved to accept the constitutional draft.

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“It (national council) recommended Zimbabweans to vote YES for the constitution in the referendum,” said Mwonzora, adding that among other positives, the MDC-T was happy the draft constitution has a comprehensive Bill of Rights that include the first generation rights and socio-economic rights.

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“The constitution makes provisions for free and fair elections and sets definite time periods in which elections must be held,” he said.

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The MDC-T was also happy that the dream for a 50-50 representation in parliament was becoming a reality, he added.

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“The MDC urges the Zimbabweans to ignore prophets of doom who have dismissed the constitution as they want to reverse the gains made by the people,” he said.