MDC-T Positions on the Constitution-Making Process – via Veritas

These are the MDC-T party’s key positions on various constitutional issues. It is critical that Zimbabweans keep themselves informed about the constitutional process and get involved and add their voice.

We must each do all we can to make sure our human rights are enshrined in law. 

This list of positions was circulated in a Veritas mailing. Veritas also note that there is no new mysterious draft constitution, as claimed by The Herald:

Wednesday’s Herald story that “MDC-T legislators were up in arms over a directive by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai to push forward a draft constitution written by “unknown” people” is incorrect. At an MDC-T Parliamentary caucus meeting a two-page document was circulated outlining the party’s key positions on various constitutional issues. It was proposed that their MPs would discuss this document to assist them in the meetings they hold in their constituencies to inform people about the constitution-making process. The document [in full below] may be of interest to those working on a new Constitution, but as with the rest of the country the party is still debating and consulting the people on what it will try to get into the constitution.

1. Citizenship

1.1. The MDC believes that the Constitution should guarantee the right to citizenship of everyone born in Zimbabwe and to everyone who has acquired citizenship through secondary vehicles such as residence or marriage.

1.2. The Constitution of Zimbabwe should allow for dual citizenship at the very minimum and that once citizenship is granted, it cannot be taken away.

2. Bill of Rights

The MDC believes in a Constitution with a strong and expanded Bill of Rights that provides for both primary and secondary rights.

These include the Right to life; Freedom from slavery and forced labour; Right to personal security; Right to personal liberty; Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment; Right to dignity and reputation; Freedom from discrimination; Freedom of conscience; Freedom of the press and media; Freedom of speech and expression; Right to language and cultural life; Minority rights; Freedom of assembly and association; Freedom of movement and residence; Protection of law: equality before the law; Protection of law: fairness in criminal cases; Protection of law: fairness in civil proceedings; Right to information; Right to just administrative action; Rights of children, their parents and guardians; Rights of women; Right to establish and maintain educational institutions; Right to property; Right to Housing; Right to Health care, food, water and social security; Right to education; Right to privacy; Political rights; Worker’s rights; Right to a clean environment.

The MDC believes that the right to freedom of life should be absolute and therefore rejects capital punishment.

In addition, the right to freedom from discrimination must be broad to include the protection of personal preferences. The MDC also feels very strongly about gender equality. Gender equality must not be a slogan but respected. Above this, a woman must have preferences over her body.

The Bill of Rights must be entrenched and no Parliament can enact laws that dilute the Bill of Rights. More importantly, all provisions in the Bill of Rights cannot be amended or altered save through a referendum.

3. Land

a. The MDC believes that Land Reform has not produced a perfect outcome and therefore there must be a rationalization done through an Act of Parliament that provides and audit, maximum number of farms and a cogent form of redistribution based on the principles of need and ability.

b. The MDC believes that issues of rationalization of land must be done through a Land Commission established through an Act of Parliament.

c. Having established the need for Land Reform, the Constitution should recognize the right of individuals to own land and indeed the existence of private property rights.

d. As in all normal Constitutions the MDC recognizes the right of the State to acquire land for the public good subject to immediate, just and fair compensation and the unfettered right to approach the Courts in the event of a dispute.

4. Executive Powers

a. Executive powers of the State should reside in a Cabinet, the President and the Prime Minister.

b. The President should be elected directly by the people. The President appoints a Prime Minister from an MP whose Party commands the majority in Parliament.

c. No person holding the office of President and Prime Minister should do so for more than two terms. Parliament must have oversight on executive powers.

5. Parliament

a. Parliament must have the right to impeach the President.

b. Parliament must be bicameral, that is, two houses, the Lower and Upper House.

c. Election to the Lower House of Assembly shall be done on a hybrid system of First-Past-The-Post and Proportional Representation electoral systems provided that the principle of gender must guide the selection and appointments of candidates.

d. The election of the Upper House (Senate) shall be done on a Proportional Representation based on Provinces.

e. The MDC recognizes that 50% of MPs should be women.

f. The right of recall for the MPs should be guaranteed in the Constitution

6. Local Government

a. The MDC believes in the fundamental principle of devolution of power to communities.

b. The MDC recognizes Traditional Leaders as part of the National Government structure.

7. Independent Commissions

a. Acts of Parliament must provide for the establishment of the following institutions which help strengthen constitutional democracy;

i. Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission

ii. Gender Commission

iii. The Auditor-General

iv. Independent Electoral Commission

v. Anti-Corruption Commission

vi. Land Commission

vii. Development Commission

viii. The Office of the Public Protector

ix. Labour Commission

x. Children’s Rights Commission

Elections

b. The MDC believes that elections should be done through an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) whose members are selected by Members of Parliament after a process of interviews.

c. Members of the IEC should have limited terms of office and should enjoy the same protection and independence as Judges.

d. The IEC must be solely responsible for the issues of delimitation of constituencies.

e. The integrity of the voter’s roll must be protected constitutionally and must be subject to scrutiny by citizens and Parliament.

f. Election dates must be defined in the Constitution.

8. Public Finance

a. The country’s finances must be managed in a transparent manner and Parliament must have oversight over the same.

b. There must be an independent Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe whose sole mandate is the determination of monetary policy and inflation targeting as defined by Treasury.

c. The Governor to the RBZ must be a technocrat and financial expert appointed by Parliament purely on financial competence, expertise and experience.

9. The Judiciary

a. The MDC strongly believes in an Independent Judiciary whose independence is constitutionally protected.

(Sokwanele – Zvakwana)