NCA Boycott Tsvangirai's Stakeholders' Forum

HARARE – The chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly, Lovemore Madhuku, said his pressure group did not attend the Stakeholders Forum opened by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday, because it was 'not a genuine meeting but a mere talk shop.'

The Prime Minister opened a consultative forum with stakeholders from civil society, the business community and the employment sector, as well as gender and development partners, to hear the concerns of Zimbabweans regarding the crisis in the country. 

But the civic leader accused the Prime Minister and his team of trying to undermine the NCA constitutional-making process. Madhuku said the inclusive government wants a ‘parliament driven’ constitution, whereas his group is calling for a ‘people driven’ constitution. 

"We now know that the Prime Minister and his team have an idea of undermining the NCA so that they can get their defective process of making a constitution through. They are trying to sideline and undermine the NCA and create some groups in civil society who will just sing their tune."

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office had said: "The one-day workshop will afford the inclusive government the opportunity to hear the views and concerns of ordinary Zimbabweans regarding economic stability, food security, restoration of basic services, guaranteeing of rights and freedoms, and improving international relations."

But Madhuku says the forum was convened by a government which believes the role of civil society is just to support it – and not to hear the other side.

According to the civic leader, his group was not invited as NCA but was invited by the National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO) and not through the Prime Minister’s office. He said the NCA is not a member of NANGO and therefore cannot be represented by this group. Madhuku said there was a misrepresentation that the whole process was to go as a cluster, and then NANGO would in turn present their position to the plenary. The NCA objected to this.

He maintains the Prime Minister and Eric Matinenga, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, are already aware of the NCA’s position and therefore meeting them again this time will provide nothing new. He said this was a talking workshop and no grievances would have been solved.

Critics of this approach have expressed disappointment at Madhuku’s attitude, saying that this was an opportunity to ask tough questions of the new government – an opportunity that Zimbabweans rarely have. SW Radio Africa (London)