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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Constitutional Amendment 18 of 2007 - Index of articles, opinion and anaylsis

  • Civil society groups backtrack on dumping MDC
    Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
    October 01, 2007

    Visit the special index of articles, analysis and opinion on Constitutional Amendment 18

    Civil society groups met in Bulawayo at the weekend to map out a response to constitutional amendment #18, which both Zanu PF and the MDC supported in parliament. It had been predicted the groups would break away from the opposition but that position found no takers on Saturday. Instead all that came out was a watered down statement demanding a new, democratic and people-driven constitution as the foundation for resolving the crises in the country. The all-stakeholders conference rejected piecemeal amendments to the current constitution and reiterated the argument that it was a breach of principle for the political parties to have made the concessions in the first place.

    The organisations feel the SADC mediation by South African president Thabo Mbeki has not taken into consideration the input of ordinary people as represented by civil society organisations. Adding to their concern is not only the process but also the secrecy that shrouds the talks between Zanu PF and the MDC. Representatives from WOZA, Radio Dialogue, Bulawayo Agenda, ZINASU, Christian Alliance, NCA, NANGO, Save Zimbabwe Campaign, ZESN, CHRA, PTUZ, ISO and others pledged to remain united and open to dialogue on issues affecting the country. Despite the show of unity evidence seems to suggest sections of the coalition who are itching for a breakaway only compromised after failing to get the required support.

    Sources point to clause 5, inserted into the press statement by the coalition, as a statement of intent by those unhappy with the MDC. The clause talks about convening a people's convention to consider the MDC's response and then, 'map a practical way forward,' and we are told that those wishing to form a so-called 'third force' political party inserted the clause. Pedzisai Ruhanya a Programmes Manager with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition meanwhile told Newsreel he personally felt the resolution to carry out outreach programmes and 'spread the virtues articulated at this conference' was a wrong decision to take. He said civil society groups should not impose their views on people, but that ordinary people should be allowed to express their opinions on the process. The weekend meeting also saw some participants talking about leadership renewal in the MDC. This drew criticism from some quarters that felt it was hypocritical for civil society leaders to preach about a concept they never applied in their own organisations. It was also put forward that the MDC does not report to civil society and as a political party had a right to seek political power. Civil society on the other hand had to serve as a watchdog for those in power to ensure citizen's rights are respected.

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