“New constitution possible” …but lawyers predict chaos

Notwithstanding, the interference and threats of violence from war veterans and also reservations from civil society MDC-T representative in the constitutional writing process Douglas Mwonzora says it is still possible to deliver an inclusive constitution.

Douglas Mwonzora
Douglas Mwonzora

“A constitution is writable under these conditions and you have to look at the historical context,” said Mwonzora.

Last week war veterans put further turmoil to the constitution making process when they invaded a COPAC press conference, and on Tuesday during the launch of the book Zimbabwe’s Constitution Drafts-Comparison and Recommendations by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Beatrice Mtetwa said that the constitution making is failing to be inclusive as it has been shrouded in secrecy and subjected to interference.

However, Mwonzora is adamant that the constitution will encapsulates the views of the people even though there are deliberate plots to derail the whole process.

Mwonzora added that COPAC has taken extra measures to ensure the safety of drafters who are being hounded by war veterans and war collaborators acting at the behest of some hardliner elements in Zanu PF who are not happy with the current document which has been leaked to the state media.

But ZLHR disagrees with Mwonzora saying that an outcome from the current constitution process will produce a transitional supreme document.

“If a new constitution emerges from this process, it can only be a transition document and the struggle for a people-owned constitution must continue under a new government with one centre of power,” said Mtetwa.

ZLHR fears that if intimidation and undue interference which is limiting free speech is allowed to continue the 2nd All Stakeholders meeting will be a disaster.

“ZLHR is fearful that if urgent measures are not taken to address such behavior, the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference will collapse even more spectacularly than the first, and the conditions preceding the Referendum will not be conducive to stemming violations of fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitution Assembly (NAC) an avid critic of the current constitution process has won support from an unlikely source in the form of Zanu PF which is trying to scamper current efforts amid revelations from Mwonzora that the constitution would accept power devolution and also has one of the best bill of rights in Africa.

Zanu PF do not want minority groups such as gays to be guaranteed their freedoms in the constitution but ZLHR says the repression of minority groups rights will make the final document inadequate to qualify as a people driven constitution.

“The intolerance which continues to characterize the constitution debate is most regrettable and must be condemned. A constitution sees to it that the rights of the weak, vulnerable and marginalized in society are also protected and this must be borne in mind all times.”

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