Mugabe lost – Makoni
HARARE – Opposition leader Simba Makoni yesterday slammed President Robert Mugabe for attempting to usurp the constitution-making process from Parliament.
The 62-year-old president of opposition Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) who was also a former Zanu PF politburo member and finance minister — challenged statements by his 88-year-old foe that the three Principals in the ruling coalition have the final say on the making of a new constitution for Zimbabwe.
Addressing delegates at the official opening of the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference on Monday, Mugabe said: “Ivo vatatu vamuri kuona ava, tisu takanyora ichi chinonzi Global Agreement. Ndisu zvakare takati kuMember dzedu dzeParliament hapana anoti kwete, mese munosungirwa kuvhota (in Parliament for Constitutional Amendment No. 19). Zvino idemocracy iyoyo? I am saying this because sometimes Parliament thinks that it is full of sovereignty, that it should control the acts of the Principals, hazviite.”
Makoni, a former executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community, (Sadc), said Mugabe’s views run contrary to provisions of Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which stipulates that a select committee of Parliament composed of representatives of the three ruling parties will steer the process.
‘‘Nowhere in the GPA are the so-called Principals given a role, let alone final say, in the making of the new Constitution. President Mugabe’s statement is not only unfounded, but also contradicts the spirit and notion of a people-driven constitution-making process,’’ Makoni told the Daily News.
‘‘The three GPA leaders are not the only people in Zimbabwe; the country has 14 million citizens. The President’s utterances are also not shared by the other GPA Principals,’’ he said, referring to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who distanced himself from Mugabe’s declaration.
Tsvangirai said: ‘‘For the record, this process is being done in accordance with Article 6 of the GPA which makes it clear that this is a parliament-driven process in which the Principals and the executive must play a minimum part.
‘‘We have no intention whatsoever, at least on my part, to tamper or meddle with the people’s views.’’
Makoni urged the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (Copac) and the people of Zimbabwe not to be intimidated and cowered by Mugabe’s antics.
‘‘The import of the President’s remarks is that the people’s views do not matter at all,’’ Makoni said.
‘‘This should not surprise anyone, since disregard of the will of the people has been President Mugabe’s hallmark for the past two decades.’’
Makoni, who garnered eight percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential election, said the baseline of constitutionalism is at the individual level, in the heart and mind of every citizen; irrespective of their station in life.
‘‘The country may have the best constitution in the world, but as long as such constitution or other laws are not respected and obeyed, especially by those claiming to be leaders, such document counts for nothing,’’ he said.
‘‘President Mugabe’s statement is a clear signal of the unwarranted interference by the Executive in the activities of the Legislature.
‘‘The GPA Principals have no mandate to finalise the country’s Constitution. Therefore, President Mugabe should not usurp the powers and responsibilities of both Parliament and the people of Zimbabwe.’’
The Copac draft constitution is a pillar of reforms aimed at averting a repeat of the violence that killed more than 200 people following Mugabe’s devastating electoral defeat in the March 2008 presidential election.
The new law, if passed in a referendum expected before year-end, replaces Zimbabwe’s 1979 independence Constitution and maintains a presidential system, but with substantial checks, and strengthens the role of Parliament while consolidating democracy and basic rights. – Gift Phiri