MDC-T rubbishes Mugabe's Heroes call for constitutional consensus

Mugabe's call for constitutional consensus misplaced--Mwonzora Thabani Dube HARARE President Robert Mugabe, in his speech to commemorate Heroes' Day in Harare on Monday, urged consensus around the draft constitution that has just been concluded, but MDC-T has rubbished his call as misguided.

Douglas Mwonzora
Douglas Mwonzora

Mugabe said there was need for the political parties-Zanu (PF), MDC-T and MDC-N- that have been negotiating the draft, to reach a consensus before it is taken to a referendum, which would precede general elections.

The two MDC formations led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube have already endorsed the draft, but Zanu (PF) says it is unhappy with three percent of the document and wants it to be taken back for further negotiations.

Speaking at the National Heroes Acre at which Tsvangirai and Deputy prime Minister Arthur Mutambara were present, Mugabe said it was heartening that the constitution making process was nearing consummation.

"We are, therefore, delighted that at long last, the curtain is coming down on the constitution-making process whose proposed draft is currently under consideration by our various parties. Our constitution should unashamedly reflect Zimbabwean values, no less, no more.

"If I may go on a bit longer, once there is consensus, the draft will be subject to a referendum. During the referendum, people will be afforded the opportunity to vote for the adoption or rejection of the proposed constitution. It is our expectation that elections will follow soon after the referendum," said Mugabe.

Observers and politicians however interpreted his call for consensus to mean a need to succumb to Zanu (PF)'s demand for a renegotiation of the draft charter.

In an interview after Mugabe's speech, Douglas Mwonzora, MDC-T Spokesperson and Co-chairperson of Copac, the Parliamentary Select Committee that is steering the constitution-making process, dismissed any prospects of more negotiations.

He said, instead, the people should be given the chance to decide if they liked the new constitution or not, through the Second All Stakeholders Conference that should bring together all interest groups to give their views on the final draft, before a referendum is conducted.

"Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement states that it is now for the people to approve or reject the draft constitution.

"The political parties in the GPA were involved from the start of the outreach programme, during the negotiating process and also the compilation of the draft. At every stage, we were explaining to our principals, so it is in breach of Article 6 of GPA if any political party wants to renegotiate what we all agreed on.

"This (draft constitution) is not an MDC product but it is what we agreed and adopted as negotiators and for Zanu Pf to say that they do not agree with its contents proves that the Zanu (PF) negotiating team of Patrick Chinamasa, Paul Mangwana and Nicholas Goche did not understand the whole process or they did so in bad faith," said Mwonzora.

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