Zim Civil Society in Save Constitution Campaign

Officially opening the Fifth Session of the Seventh Parliament on Tuesday, President Mugabe urged the Parliamentary Constitution Select Committee to expeditiously produce a report of the Second All-stakeholders conference “summarising the views expressed by the stakeholders, in particular the divergent views, and submit the report to the principals in government who will take the necessary steps to set up an appropriate mechanism to build the required consensus on the way forward.”

He added that there was need now for the government to assume the management of the process leading to the referendum. But civil society organisations yesterday were adamant there was need to rescue the final and crucial stage of the constitution-making process from the grip of the principals to the GPA.

Last week the civil society organisations met in Bulawayo to review the second all-stakeholders conference where it was unanimously agreed to save the constitution from the tentacles of the principals after it emerged the GPA bosses were intent on rail-roading the process.

According to Mcdonald Lewanika, the director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a grouping of more than 300 local civil society organisations, the principals needed to clearly clarify their position
regarding the finalisation of the last stages of the constitution-making process.

“Firstly, it is bad enough that politicians presided over the process in its entirety in the first place. Our call is that -that is enough. Parliament should be allowed to complete this process without undue interference and editing by the Principals,” said Lewanika.

He said the fact that President Mugabe in particular wanted to have a final say on the draft was a betrayal of the aspirations of Zimbabweans.

Both Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube, who leads the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have publicly stated they will not temper with the people’s views and want parliament to have the final say before the constitution is taken to a national referendum.

It is understood Zanu-PF is still insisting on the incorporation of its 266-amendments to the COPAC draft before it is brought to parliament.

Lewanika said civil society organisations intended seeking clarification from the three principals over the next stage of the constitution process as a starting point to saving the constitution from possible manipulation by politicians.

“In terms of how to save the draft from the principals, we will start by holding the two MDC presidents accountable but if they are true to their word, there is no way they will be railroaded by President
Mugabe into tempering with the peoples’ views.

“President Mugabe also will be held accountable based on his previous statement that every sovereign people have the right to author their own constitution, he is not the sovereign people of Zimbabwe and as such should not negate the peoples’ right to their views and having these views stand,” he said.

The CSOs would escalate the issue to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the guarantor, together with the African Union, of the GPA, if they get no joy from the three principals.

The SADC Summit held in Maputo in August, presented SADC intervention on matters related to the constitution as an open avenue for engagement, facilitation and mediation.