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Constitution gets green light
Thomas Chiripasi, Blessing Zulu, Voice of America
January 17, 2013
View this article
on the Voice of America website
government principals announced they have resolved the outstanding
issues over the draft
of the revised constitution, paving the way for a referendum on
Speaking at the same State House press conference where he announced
the death of Vice President John Nkomo, President Robert Mugabe
on Thursday told reporters that he and the other leaders of the
parties in the unity government have agreed on the way forward,
after receiving a report from the cabinet committee on the constitution-making
process and COPAC.
President Mugabe said the differences over key sections of the draft
charter had been worked out. This position was confirmed by Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said there were many reasons
that brought the political leaders together Thursday.
Leader of the other MDC formation, Industry Minister Welshman Ncube,
also attended the meeting as head of his party and said all that
is left now is to write up the final draft.
Although the leaders told reporters that they have agreed on all
the sticking issues in the constitution-making process, they did
not announce when the referendum will be held. More importantly,
they did not give details of how they resolved the disputes.
In a separate,
statement, Prime Minister Tsvangirai described the resolution
of issues in the draft constitution as "a defining moment"
in Zimbabwe's history.
While he also did not offer specifics in the draft, he called the
new document a "social contract between the government and
the people" that "responds to [the people's] demands
for transperency, accountability, and good governance."
For details on what the principals agreed to regarding the new constitution,
VOA Studio 7 reached out to officials in the three political parties.
COPAC chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana with Zanu PF, Constitutional
Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga with MDC-T (svangirai) and MDC-N(cube)
Secretary General Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga confirmed their
areas of agreement on the draft.
On the question of devolution,
the parties agreed to do away with provincial governors appointed
by the president. Instead, there will be a provincial chairman appointed
by the party with the highest number of votes in the province. Because
there was lack of a clear definition of what devolution is, the
draft will add a lengthy preamble to explain it.
There were reportedly some who feared that devolution could allow
provinces to secede. The preamble will clarify that devolution is
the statutory granting of powers from the central government to
governments at the regional, or even local, level.
Devolution can focus primarily on financial functions or even allow
provinces to draft and pass legislation. How exactly devolution
will look in Zimbabwe will depend on what is written in the forthcoming
preamble and legislation concerning devolution that may come if
the new draft is approved in a referendum.
Parliament has been empowered
to deal with the issue through legislation. In other words, the
draft constitution will not stake out a position on the issue.
running mates, candidates for vice president who would assume power
in the event that the president dies or is incapacitated, will be
introduced for the presidential election in 2023. Until then, the
party of whoever is president will determine the successor for the
remainder of the president's term.
attorney-general's office will be split into two functions. One
will be a prosecuting authority and the other will be a legal advisor
to the government.
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