Zim civic body to fight imposition of new constititution

HARARE - Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said on Tuesday it would rally citizens to protest against moves by the country's three biggest political parties to impose a new constitution on the nation under a power-sharing deal signed a week ago.

The NCA – an influential political pressure group that in 2000 successfully mobilised voters to reject a government draft constitution that would have entrenched President Robert Mugabe’s powers – said the ruling ZANU PF party and the two opposition MDC formations had no right to write a new constitution for Zimbabwe without input from citizens.

NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the group would organise protests at the offices of Mugabe and prime minister-designate in the proposed power-sharing government, Morgan Tsvangirai, to demand a people-driven process to write a new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe.

The NCA will confront the transitional government with a demand for a new democratic constitution (achieved through) a people-driven process, Madhuku told journalists in Harare.

He said his group that has over the past few years defied attacks by police to stage successive protests against Mugabe’s rule, would employ its usual ways of protests and demonstrations at the offices of the president and prime minister.

Mugabe, main MDC leader Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, who heads a breakaway faction of the opposition, signed on September 11 a deal to form a government of national unity that would work to end Zimbabwe’s worsening economic crisis and also ensure a new and democratic constitution for the country within 18 months.

But the deal, signed amid hope by millions of struggling Zimbabweans, could yet unravel as Mugabe, Tsvangirai, and Mutambara have failed to agree on the allocation of Cabinet ministries in the new government.

The power-sharing deal has also come under immense pressure from the powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions which has castigated it as an elitist pact between politicians that was drafted with little regard to the wishes of workers or the electorate.

Threats by the NCA – which is a coalition of churches, human and civic rights groups, women’s groups, the student and labour movement – to stage protests against a key provision of the power-sharing pact can only help complicate matters for a deal that many doubt can withstand the strain given deep-seated animosity between parties involved.

Madhuku said the NCA objected to the fact that the power-sharing deal appeared to allow political leaders to chop and change the country’s constitution through Parliament without consulting ordinary Zimbabweans.

He said ZANU PF and the MDC planned to adopt as the new governing charter for Zimbabwe a draft constitution known as the Kariba Draft which was written by senior officials of the parties and is known to the politicians and no one else.

In the agreement, the parties adopted a draft constitution in Kariba on 30 September last year and it is this draft which ZANU PF and the two MDC formations seek to sneak through as a new constitution for Zimbabwe, said Madhuku.

Zimbabwe’s present constitution was drafted by the country’s former colonial master Britain with some input from former liberation movements but with no consultation of citizens.

Many political analysts trace the country’s governance crisis to the independence constitution that was written more as a ceasefire document between nationalist guerillas and the white colonial government they were fighting against rather than a charter for good governance and democracy. – ZimOnline

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