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MPs’ submissions to COPAC
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
November 15, 2010

Parliament Submissions to COPAC

Parliamentarians made their submissions on Thursday 11 November 2010 to COPAC on what they would like to see in the new constitution. The session was characterized by heckling, tedious repetition and lack of seriousness on the party of law-makers. The two main political parties were not agreed on almost all the thematic talking points as MPs expressed partisan views which drew the ire of each other.

On the Preamble, parties were only in agreement regarding the need to highlight the sacrifices made by the people of Zimbabwe in the liberation struggle that led to independence from the colonizers in 1980. However, ZANU PF went further and suggested that the preamble should also capture what they called “3rd Chimurenga”, the so-called economic empowerment process, which stared with the land reform programme in 2000. This suggestion drew jeers from MDC benches. On their part, MDC MPs said the preamble should also highlight Gukurahundi atrocities, Murambatsvina and politically motivated 2008 election violence. ZANU PF Members objected strongly to these suggestions.

Below is a summary of major highlights where the parties differed;

Thematic Talking Points ZANU PF Position MDC-T Position
Citizenship Mono Citizenship Dual Citizenship
Media Controlled media Media freedom and plurality
War Veterans Compensation should include those who were at the battle front, mujibhas, ex-detainees and restrictees. Compensation should include those who were at the battle front, mujibhas, ex-detainees and restrictees and the general populace who provided freedom fighters with material assistance.
Land Irreversibility of land reform, all remaining white farmers should be disposed of their farms. No compensation to ex-white farmers. 99-Year Lease Agreements Land Audit, Land Commission. Clear procedures for land distribution and compensation. Title Deeds.
Systems of Government Unitary system Devolved system
Executive Executive President. No Prime minister.
Ministers to be appointed by President among MPs.
Executive Prime Minister to head government and titular president as head of state. Ministers to be nominated by President among MPs but approved by parliament.
Legislature Two Houses. Floor crossing should be permitted. Appointees to cater for interest groups e.g. women, disabled, business etc. Two Houses. Floor crossing should not be permitted. No appointees.

If the acrimonious atmosphere in the House was indicative of what will happen when the draft constitution is finally presented for debate in parliament, it may not be farfetched to argue that the draft constitution will not see the light of the day, unless political parties make concessions and compromises outside the House. Because of the imminent elections next year, the atmosphere is already poisoned in the two Houses of parliament, to allow for fruitful engagement and debate.

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