Monday, 28 January 2008

A new constitution for the MDC briSHIT puppet???

‘Polls first, constitution later’

By Mabasa Sasa

ZIMBABWE will only craft a new constitution after the landmark March 29 harmonised polls through a national consultative process and referendum, the Government announced yesterday.

The Government also categorically stated that the elections would not be postponed to give way to a new constitution as demanded by the MDC factions.

In an interview yesterday, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, said the State was not in a hurry to craft a constitution that is not people-centred, in order to please one political grouping.

Cde Chinamasa said a constitution is a serious document that needs the participation of all and sundry and should, therefore, not be hurried because someone is demanding it as a prerequisite for national elections.

He said the State would not give in to demands from opposition quarters for a new constitution without due consultations with the people of Zimbabwe.

Cde Chinamasa brushed aside comments from the MDC that the South African-facilitated dialogue between the ruling Zanu-PF and the two opposition factions had fallen by the wayside after President Mugabe last week set polling for March 29.

"As far as we are concerned the dialogue that is being facilitated by South Africa is still ongoing. As Zanu-PF we are committed to an irreversible process that will result in the presentation of a draft constitution for national consultation.

"We would like whatever document comes out of the national consultative process to be subjected to a referendum and if the people accept it only then will the country put in place a new constitution.

"As Zanu-PF we are basically saying the people should be consulted and that is a commitment we have made as a ruling party."

Cde Chinamasa, along with his Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare counterpart Cde Nicholas Goche, are representing the ruling party in the dialogue that South Africa is facilitating.

Professor Welshman Ncube and Mr Tendai Biti, the secretaries-general of the Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai factions respectively, are negotiating on behalf of the MDC.

Cde Chinamasa also said there was no way the joint presidential, Senate, House of Assembly and local government elections would be postponed.

He said he had spoken to Prof Ncube last Friday and had received no indication that the opposition felt that the inter-party dialogue had irrevocably broken down.

"Last week on Friday, I talked to Prof Ncube and we were actually discussing what new initiatives could be pursued to take dialogue further. So as far as we are concerned, dialogue is still ongoing and we shall remain under South Africa’s facilitation whether before or after elections until we have a final and irreversible agreement," Cde Chinamasa said.

Prof Ncube was quoted by some sections of the private Press as saying by calling for an election on March 29 President Mugabe had "repudiated" the inter-party talks.

The spokesperson of the Tsvangirai faction, Mr Nelson Chamisa, echoed similar sentiments, with both groups saying they would be meeting later this week to decide whether or not to participate in the elections.

The MDC has been agitating for the postponement of the elections, to pave way for a new constitution.

However, insiders close to the ruling party-opposition dialogue processes say by making these demands, the MDC is acting in bad faith as the parties agreed right at the beginning of the talks last year to proceed by way of a constitutional amendment.

Zanu-PF and the two factions subsequently co-sponsored Constitutional Amendment (Number 18) Act, which paved the way for the March 29 polls but the opposition has since reneged on this agreement.

It is believed that the MDC is agitating for the deferment to buy time as they are not prepared to contest the elections.

Furthermore, there have been strong indications that the opposition’s foreign backers have devised the poll postponement agenda and the MDC is merely doing the bidding of its Western principals.

This follows reports from the last Commonwealth meeting in Uganda that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown tried in vain to impress on President Mbeki, Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni and Zambian Vice President Rupiya Banda to exhort Harare to delay elections.

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