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Biti lambasts ZANU PF for dumping the COPAC Draft Constitution

MDC-T Secretary General and GPA Chief Negotiator, Hon. Tendai Biti, has castigated ZANU PF for indicating right while turning left in the constitution making process. Speaking during the Zimbabwe Lecture Series in Harare on the 27th of September at the Jameson Hotel under the theme, Does the COPAC draft represent the consolidation of democracy or is it another missed opportunity? Minister Biti said that only Zimbabweans have the right to decide on whether the COPAC Draft is an ideal constitution for Zimbabwe. He made these sentiments

'The Constitution is the supreme document of the land and the foundation upon which democracy and good governance should be built on. It should provide for how a people would want to be governed and the COPAC does so. Thus it is paramount for the people of Zimbabwe to be at the epicentre of deciding on whether this document best captures their needs or not, said Hon. Biti

Also present at the forum were Dr. Ibbo Mandaza-from Southern Africa Political and Economic Series (SAPES), Netsai Mushonga the National Director of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), and ZANU-PF Copac technical advisor Godwills Masimirembwa.

Hon Biti told participants that Zanu-PF is trying by all means to destroy the constitution making process and is working tirelessly to try and suffocate the document which they partially mothered. He gave reference to the 13th of July 2009 incident where ZANU-PF supporters together with war veterans violently disrupted the 1st All Stakeholders Conference. Hon Biti defended the COPAC draft arguing that it presents to Zimbabweans a vaccine against ills which the nation is suffering from as it is also based on the uncontestable founding principle of the supremacy of the constitution predicated on human rights, good governance, rule of law, smooth transfer of power and gender equality. He added that, the Zanu PF draft seeks to reverse these founding principles by the creation of a super constitutional principle known as 'the founding values and ideals of the liberations struggle.

"To most of us, the values and ideals of the liberation struggle are equality, democracy and the rule of law, gender equality, good governance and orderly transfer of power. By recognising other values and ideals that are beyond this, then Zanu PF can only be referring to the values of predation, corruption, violence, state vandalism, patronage and exclusion. In fact, the people of Zimbabwe are better off with the Lancaster House constitution than the Zanu PF draft and the country cannot afford to go into the past, € said Biti.

Minister Biti also reinforced that the breakdown of the social contract and other forms of societal cohesion is a clear indication that Zimbabwe is yearning for a new dispensation. He noted that the new constitution presents a new dialogue for diagnosis and proffers a solution for the country's ills. He further asserted that the Copac draft has dealt with imperial power in four facets namely: a broadened definition of citizenship, a comprehensive bill of rights, a democratic and accountable president with shared and trimmed executive powers and the creation of security services accountable to the constitution, parliament and the electorate.

ZANU-PF Copac technical advisor Godwills Masimirembwa highlighted that ZANU-PF never refused to go the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference. He argued that his party     is simply following the provisions of Article 6 of the GPA. Masimirembwa further told the audience that Zanu-PF had accepted to go to the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference on the pretext that debate would allow them to bring in their contentious 266 amendments.

'The amendments are still part of us and   Zanu of is out in full force and shall put forward its submissions at the conference upon which COPAC is obliged to thoroughly capture and report on them €, boated Mr Masimirembwa

Masimirembwa also condemned the COPAC draft constitution arguing that it does not reflect the will of the people as there is no agreement on the concept of devolution and the granting of rights to LGBTs. He further said that the Zanu PF amendments to the draft constitution will see the will of the people being accommodated before the referendum is held. "The revolutionary party, Zanu PF, has vowed to push for a 'NO' vote campaign if the issues it raised are not addressed, € he added

Director of Research and Policy Coordination for MDC-N, Mr Qubani Moyo pointed out that the Draft constitution was a necessary document to produce and it is for this reason that citizens of Zimbabwe should get an uninterrupted opportunity to scrutinise the draft, so that they are able to identify the good, the bad and the ugly in the document and make informed decisions about moving forward. He said, instead, people should get into the travelling gear in preparation for the stakeholders conference and ultimately a referendum.

Dr Ibbo Mandaza also present at the forum pointed out that the COPAC Draft constitution only reflects a democratic process in that it is a product of consensus between the three main political parties in the GPA. He condemned the draft constitution saying it is a politically negotiated document which does not reflect views of the people. Netsai Mushonga started her presentation by denying allegations of civil society being aligned to political parties. She noted that the women's movement has been fighting for women's equality and equity regardless of political affiliation. €The draft constitution captures our aspirations     and it is important for all players in the GPA to allow the draft to be scrutinised at the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference €, said Ms. Mushonga. She told the gathering that her organization would continue to engage COPAC to ensure that their demands as women are captured in the new constitution for Zimbabwe.

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