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No room for constitution amendments: Zimbabweans reiterate

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition   held a Public Talk Show on Wednesday the 29th of August 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel under the topic: "Understanding the COPAC Draft constitution stalemate: an exercise in safeguarding citizens input and preservation of our democracy or attempts at railroading the nation into an election under Lancaster? Who has the power to decide on final draft? What is the possible way forward?"

The Talk Show had a diverse composition of speakers comprising of political parties academics and civil society. The speakers were Hon. D. Mwonzora (COPAC CO-Chairperson and Spokesperson of the MDC Led by P.M Tsvangirai), Hon. P. Mangwana COPAC CO-Chairperson (ZANU PF), Qhubani Moyo of the MDC led by Prof Ncube), and President Job Sikhala (President MDC 99, and former legislator for St. Mary's), Professor Lovemore Madhuku (Chairperson of the NCA), and Cde Japhet Moyo (Secretary General of the ZCTU).

Hon. Douglas Mwonzora indicated that the MDC-T leadership had compromised on  many issues in the draft constitution although     since the 18th of July draft constitution was a product of a negotiated process coupled with the incorporation of people's views articulated during the outreach program. He said that the whole process involved a give and take approach and hence the COPAC draft is a mixture of the 'good, the bad and the ugly'. Hon Mwonzora also noted that ZANU-PF had amended the COPAC Draft Constitution '266 times' a position he emphasised, the MDC-T respectfully disagrees with. He lamented the insincerity exhibited by ZANU PF stating that the 266 amendments rendered the whole draft constitution a ZANU PF draft.

Qhubani Moyo said the time for political parties to continue negotiating had elapsed and hence there is need to give people a chance. He said that political parties in the GPA spent 3 years negotiating and Zimbabweans must now be allowed to decide what they want in the constitution without any interference from political parties. Mr Moyo said the ZANU-PF' draft constitution  which deliberately restores President Mugabe's executive  powers is simply a ploy by the party to restore   imperial presidency and retain its excessive state control in order   in order to maintain political advantage over other parties ahead of elections expected to be held next year.

Moyo suggested that an alternative way of resolving the current impasse on the draft constitution is to test both the Copac draft and Zanu PF document in a referendum. He noted that the two MDC formations are of the view that the only way forward, if ZANU PF insists on sneaking in its outrageous amendments into the COPAC Draft constitution is to allow Zimbabweans to decide through a referendum.

Hon. Paul Mangwana dismissed the assertions made by both Hon. Mwonzora and Mr Qhubani Moyo arguing that  the COPAC draft constitution did not reflect what the people said during the outreach and that  the drafters were blind to people's view which are contained in the National Report. He revealed that ZANU- PF was going to publish the National Report order to expose COPAC's lies and betrayal to the people of Zimbabwe. He said that once the National report is out, Zimbabweans are going to realise that their views were not captured. Former Member of Parliament for St Marys Constituency and President of MDC 99, Mr Job Sikhala however argued that the constitution making process had been hijacked by politicians and had long ceased to be people driven. He emphasised that the declared constitution making stalemate was in fact a stalemate between the people and political parties, who are after advancing their own selfish interests at the expense of the people.

Professor Madhuku and Qhubani Moyo have a word during the meeting

Professor Lovemore Madhuku concurred with Mr Job Sikhala's assertions by restating that the COPAC draft constitution had become a ZANU PF and MDCs Draft constitution. He vowed that the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) was going to mobilise the masses for a "No € vote at the referendum. He however emphasised that the constitution making process must be completed for it is long overdue.

The ZCTU Secretary General Mr Japhet Moyo in his presentation acknowledged the existence of some not-so-good elements in the COPAC draft but highlighted that ZCTU supports the current draft as it is and if ZANU-PF's amendments are to be taken on, then COPAC must also accept submissions from special interest groups which include workers.

In the plenary session, Special interest groups were also given the opportunity to ask questions to the panellists and Virginia Muwanigwa of the Women's Coalition representing who was representing the women applauded the COPAC draft constitution adding that even though it was not what women had hoped to be a perfect document, it had gone a long way in trying to capture women's demands as compared to the Lancaster House Constitution. She also raised concerns that if Principals to the GPA incorporate ZANU-PF's amendments, "men will have failed and it will be time for women to step up and take over € the constitution making process.

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