Matinenga urges unity

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister, Eric Matinenga recently urged civil society organisations to rally behind the current draft constitution in order to move the country forward.

Matinenga was addressing delegates at the National Association of Non-governmental Organisations Expo 2012 held under the theme “Celebrating 50 years of participatory development”.

“We must come up with a constitution collectively as Zimbabwean citizens and not as political parties. Article 6 is very clear that three parties in the inclusive government (MDC-T, Zanu P and MDC-N) must come up with a draft constitution before convening a Second All Stakeholders Conference,” Matinenga said. “Citizens are faced with a dichotomy whether to support or oppose the constitutional draft. The question that people must ask themselves is whether to take a position that helps the party, individuals or the people of Zimbabwe.” Matinenga urged his coalition government partners to consider moving the country forward.

Checks and balances

“When you seek to move the national agenda ahead you are not selling out but moving the country forward. Those against the clause on separation of power and devolution of power must be reminded of a former Australian Chief Justice who said people who exercise power and claim to represent people do not want to have checks and balances done on them,” Matinenga added.

There was need to balance the general views of the majority and the minority since both were vital in making the constitution, he added. He said only the Parliamentary Select Committee was mandated with drafting the constitution. Zanu (PF) has rejected a draft agreed by the three parties and has drafted its own. It is insisting that its document be used to re-negotiate the contents of a draft charter. “The legal position is that Copac, according to Article 6, should prepare a draft constitution. We cannot have the possibility of another constitution except if Copac says that. What the agent says binds the principal,” Matinenga said. Matinenga made it clear that the principals do not make the document and they can only make suggestions.

In an indirect attack on President Mugabe and Zanu (PF), Matinenga said the country could not have a constitution that was a party manifesto.

“Civil society is presented with a chance and an opportunity to support the constitution. The constitution does not applaud everyone but should give a holistic approach. Our desire is to swim together and not to sink together as a country,” Matinenga added.

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