Edward Mkhosi co-chairperson of Copac told journalists at a press briefing in Harare that other issues in the draft constitution that include presidential term limits, age limit for presidential candidates are still to be deliberated by the constitution making body.
“We would want to inform the nation that the principal drafters have produced the first draft constitution of the new constitution of Zimbabwe,” Mkhosi said. “They are now reviewing (the draft constitution) with the assistance of technical experts. The draft proposal is work in progress until it is approved by Copac.”
There have been suggestions that all presidential candidates above the age of 70 years and those who have served two terms before as President must be barred from contesting in any election. President Robert Mugabe is the only leader that the country has had since independence and is expected to turn 88 this month.
“It is therefore premature at this stage to conclude that Zimbabweans, through the outreach consultations stated that people who have served at least two terms and those above the age of 70 will not be able to contest in the presidential elections,”Mkhosi said.
“The Select Committee has not yet deliberated on among other issues the age limit or the terms of the office of the President.”
Meanwhile, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) on Tuesday listed a number of demands that include a new constitution and a equal access to media to all political actors that must be met by the unity government before fresh elections are held in the country.
Madock Chivasa, NCA spokesperson said a democratic constitution that is supported by an independent and impartial electoral body must be in place before fresh polls are held as demanded by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
“Fully believing that all elections in Zimbabwe remain illegitimate and without merit until undertaken under a new democratic and people-driven constitution, the people should demand elections under a new constitutional dispensation.,” Chivasa said.
“We will continue pressurising the present government to come up with an independent commission to consult people on the views they want to be included in the constitution. A democratic people driven constitution will guarantee Zimbabweans of free and fair election that are violent free.”
The NCA said they want “one independent, impartial, accountable and well-resourced electoral management body” and that the process of delimitation or demarcation of constituencies must be done in a transparent manner that is “free from political control.” The pressure group said the voters roll must be easily accessible and that voter education must be done with the participation of civic society.
“Transparent and neutral location of polling stations, agreed to through a national consultative process devoid of undue ruling or opposition party and government influence, which are accessible to all including those with special needs,” Chivasa said.
“International, Regional and Local Observers and Monitors being permitted access to everyone involved in the electoral process.”
The NCA embarked on a programme called “Take charge” in the last two years urging Zimbabweans to reject the government led constitution making process saying the process is not people driven. The organisation which was formed in the late 90s said they will urge Zimbabweans to vote “No” at the referendum of the draft constitution being written.
The current constitution making process has been delayed in the last two years due to lack of resources, violent disturbances by Zanu PF supporters and disagreement among the main political parties on how the process should be done.
Sources have revealed that Zanu (PF) Copac co-chair Paul Mangwana is under fire from his party for allowing such a clause to be drafted in the document. This would have meant automatic disqualification for the 88-year-old Mugabe who is Zanu (PF)’s Presidential candidate for the next election.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s sole ruler since attaining independence in 1980, was endorsed during the December party conference as the party’s candidate.
Mangwana denied he was under pressure from his party. “There is no pressure from anyone,” he said.
“The impression created is that Copac has taken a position on qualifications or disqualifications of the office of the President which is not correct…”.