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No more negotiations on the draft constitution ...PM re-assures Civil society

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai declared that he will not negotiate with President Robert Mugabe for the inclusion of Zanu PF's amendments into the new draft constitution.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai said this while addressing more than 40 Civil Society Leaders at a CSO briefing meeting organised by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on Thursday the 30th of August 2012.

The Prime Minister qualified his declaration by arguing that Zimbabwe cannot afford to slide back into the electoral crisis of 2008, and urged the people of Zimbabwe to re-energize their zeal and quest for a democratic Zimbabwe. He further highlighted that attempts by ZANU-PF to dedicate more time on the constitution making process in which the country invested a lot of time and resources was  unacceptable. "To open the draft constitution debate now is like opening a floodgate, for once you start you will never know where to stop €, the Prime Minister said.

Hon Tsvangirai also noted that despite political differences, it is imperative that the inclusive government lays the basis for political stability by addressing reforms that will lead to peaceful, free and fair elections and ultimately, to a legitimate government. "We have pushed ZANU-PF to accept reforms but the party seems to be ill-prepared as it views reform as regime change € he added. He further mentioned that political violence, abuse of state institutions and squandering of national resources continue to pose   a threat to any  future attempts to have a credible , free and fair election in Zimbabwe.

In the plenary, The Director of Crisis Coalition, Mr Lewanika asked The Prime Minister whether it was still necessary to continue haggling with ZANU-PF rather than to focus on a clear Exit Strategy. He went on to ask him if it was possible to concentrate on negotiating on clear timelines for key processes such as the Referendum and Elections. In his response Hon Tsvangirai explained that an Exit Strategy is already in place and this encompasses coming up with a constitution which will lead to an election. The Prime Minister however lamented that circumstances surrounding the GNU have proven that it is easier to lay down a roadmap but difficult to meet the target. He further highlighted that the extension of the GNU was a result of protracted delays of processes that were supposed to have been completed and these include the constitution making process.

The Prime Minister emphasised that SADC as a Guarantor of the GPA has made it clear that the constitution is the major benchmark to be fulfilled before going to any election. He mentioned that after all, Africa, and in particular the SADC and AU, have invested a lot of time in facilitating negotiation of the political parties in the GPA    to find each other. "As we reach the delicate stage of this transition, it is important that we retain the confidence of our brothers and sisters to show these stakeholders that on our part as a government, we remain committed to and internationalise the holding free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, € The Prime Minister accentuated.

At the same briefing, women's groups also expressed concerns that a lot of time, effort and resources have been invested into the process which led to the current Draft constitution that captures the views of women. The women's groups further added that it will be unfair that the process be taken back to the negotiation table which may result in reversing the gains women have scored in the current COPAC Draft constitution.

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