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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s statement to the press
    Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
    March 12, 2013

    It is now common knowledge that the Principals to the Inclusive Government meet every Monday and whenever circumstances dictate that we should meet, just as we have met today after Cabinet even though we had met only yesterday.

    In the public interest and as the spokesperson for the Principals, I want to take this opportunity to apprise you of some of the agreements we have recently reached.

    1. ZEC chairperson:

    The Principals agreed that Justice Makarau will assume her position as the substantive Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

    The Principals agreed that it would be improper to have a temporary Chairperson for such a key institution as ZEC and that constitutionally, a substantive chairperson enjoys security of tenure which an acting chairperson does not have.

    Security of tenure of the Chairperson and Commissioners is critical to the independence of ZEC. The principals expect Justice Makarau to be sworn in soon after the referendum subject to the completion of the procedural requirements under the Constitution.

    Chairing ZEC is a mammoth responsibility which has everything to do with the credibility of the next election. As such, any chairperson to this very important Commission can only be substantive.

    2. The Observers and Accreditation Committee

    The Principals have also agreed that the Observers Accreditation Committee (OAC) which is responsible for the accreditation of referendum and election observers must be re-configured so that there is equitable political representation to ensure the political ground is fair and level for all contestants.

    At present, the legal formula under the Electoral Act for the composition of the OAC is such that it gives an unfair advantage to one political party because the majority of the nominees are made by Ministers from that political party. This gives that party an unfair advantage over other contestants in the forthcoming election.

    The reconfiguration must be consistent with the spirit of the GPA which promotes equitable representation but in addition it must be expanded to include other political and civil society actors so that it is properly representative and inclusive.

    3. Civic society participation as observers

    The Principals agreed that ZEC must not prohibit local civil society organisations and NGOs from accreditation on the basis that they are facing investigations, charges or prosecution by the police because that would be contrary to the Bill of Rights and the cardinal rule of natural justice that every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    The Principals want this process to be as transparent as possible and no local persons must be banned from accreditation on this basis.

    4. International observers

    Contrary to recent public statements by some Government officials, there is no agreed government policy on the banning of international observers from accreditation to observe the referendum and elections in Zimbabwe.

    While they can express their own opinions, no single party is entitled to make public pronouncements of government policy without the agreement of the other parties in the Inclusive Government.

    One party’s policies on the issue of international observers do not represent government policy.

    Currently, there is no agreement on this issue and discussions between the Principals are still taking place. An announcement on the issue of international observers will be made at the appropriate time when consensus has been reached.

    5. Funding for Elections

    While acknowledging the tremendous efforts being made towards raising financial resources to fund the referendum and the elections, the Principals appreciate that domestic resources will not be enough and it is necessary to seek external support through the UNDP.

    After further discussions on the UNDP’s Terms of Reference, the Ministers of Finance and Justice have been mandated to communicate with the UNDP with a view to kick-starting the process. We therefore expect a Needs Assessment Mission to visit the country soon after the referendum because time is of the essence.

    6. Election date

    The timing of elections is not a unilateral decision but will be agreed between the Principals at the appropriate time. At present, the Principals are ensuring the environment is conducive to the holding of a free, credible and legitimate election.

    The political and legal processes, including the alignment of laws to the new Constitution, will determine the actual date for the elections.

    7. The conduct of the Police

    The Principals have agreed that the police should conduct themselves in a manner that is fair, impartial and apolitical.

    To this end, the Principals were today scheduled to meet with the Commissioner-General of Police and his Co-Ministers of Affairs to give direction on their expected conduct before, during and after the election. The police conduct will definitely have an overarching bearing on the credibility of elections.

    I thank you

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