|Draft constitution: The drama begins|
|Saturday, 28 July 2012 22:23|
Morris Mkwate and Kuda Bwititi
Zanu-PF constitution management committee member Cde Patrick Chinamasa said the Politburo tasked party representatives on the panel to collate the amendments into a comprehensive document. He said the organ will meet again this Wednesday to finalise its position, after which the proposed changes would be tabled before the management committee.
Debate on a section dealing with the nomination of presidential candidates and their running mates will also be concluded at the crucial meeting. “It was a no-holds-barred debate and very robust. It was very constructive. We went through almost line by line (of the draft),” said Cde Chinamasa, who is also Justice and Legal Affairs Minister.
“The major yardstick against which the document was viewed and critiqued was to the extent to which it remained faithful to the views of the people as expressed during the outreach.
“We are going to engage our colleagues in the management committee over the party position. Our expectation is they will accept these proposals to improve the draft. The Politburo and Zanu-PF are committed to seeing this process through. A lot of resources have been expended; we cannot afford to see the process come to naught.”
According to Cde Chinamasa, Politburo members felt the draft provisions on national objectives and foundations do not place “enough weight” against the role of the country’s struggle against colonialism and imperialism. They also opined the liberation struggle was not clearly recognised as the cornerstone of the modern Zimbabwean nation.
Liberation values should permeate the two chapters, resolved the Politburo, which also wants the national thrust of economically empowering indigenous Zimbabweans to become evident in the document.
The procedure allows a party with the highest number of seats in a given constituency to nominate two candidates, one of whom will be appointed by the President.
“The clear understanding on provincial governors is that he or she is the representative of the President in a province and not of political parties. He or she is the link between the people in the province and the centre as headed by the President. It is important that harmony and coherence be maintained in the interest of the country and development.”
The status quo should remain, according to the party. It also emphasised harmony between the functions of local authorities and national plans and objectives. The draft constitution also proposes the establishment of a special court to deal with constitutional matters.
Under the existing set up, the Supreme Court constitutes itself into a constitutional court comprising five judges when dealing with constitutional cases.
deployment would jeopardise the concerned forces’ security.
Regarding a proposal to abolish the office of the Public Protector and its replacement with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, it was resolved that the office should remain in place as it performs unique functions.
“The draft also sought to split the functions and Office of the Attorney-General into two, one office being that of the Prosecutor General whose responsibility would be to carry out criminal prosecutions. The AG was left to be the principal legal advisor and to represent Government in civil litigation. The feeling was that the status quo should be maintained because it has served the country well.”
He added that the meeting also debated the provision relating to the nomination of presidential candidates and running mates and resolved to take a position on Wednesday.
In terms of the proposed constitution, each presidential candidate’s nomination papers should include two vice-presidents as running mates in order of rank.
Regarding amendments relating to chiefs, he said: “. . .We also think chiefs should have a representative on the Judicial Services Commission. They are a lower tier of the justice delivery system. Their jurisdiction over land matters is being actively considered and a decision will be taken in future.” Asked about the management committee’s deviation from the national report containing public views collected during the outreach, Cde Chinamasa said this emerged as efforts were made to accommodate the interests of parties to the GPA.
He said the procedure for the appointment of provincial governors and a section on the composition of provincial councils were the notable deviations while other matters were technical. He said the national report was not widely publicised because the two MDC formations refused to sign it as public opinion ran contrary to their respective interests.
“The national report was produced, but not really publicised. To have it publicised, we needed the signatures of the three Constitution Select Committee (Copac) co-chairs.
“The co-chairs from the MDC formations refused to sign. As far as we are concerned as Zanu-PF, the national report is the yardstick around which the constitution was crafted.
In a statement soon after the council meeting, party spokesman Mr Douglas Mwonzora said provisions on citizenship, strengthening Parliament, devolution of power and the creation of independent commissions were satisfactory. He said the party also welcomed the expansion of the Bill of Rights.
“The Bill of Rights in the draft is the highest in Africa…there is an expanded and comprehensive Bill of Rights that guarantees equality of all persons and now provides for economic, social and cultural rights to include the rights of children and workers.”
The management committee overseeing the crafting of a new constitution produced the final draft on July 18. The document was subsequently submitted to the inclusive Government principals for consideration.
It will also be presented to Parliament after which a referendum will follow.