The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) held a public meeting at the New Ambassador Hotel on the 12th of June 2012.
The topic was: The Draft Constitution “A test of People’s Will”.
There were four speakers from different political parties and academic institutions namely Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Honourable Douglas Mwonzora, Dr. Charity Manyeruke and Qhubani Moyo.
The major highlights were as follows:
- A major concern was the delay in solving the “parked issues” as this has derailed the finalization of the draft constitution. The public meeting delved into the devolution and dual citizenship under the “parked issues.”
- Qhubani Moyo reiterated its inclusion on the basis that people have migrated in search for job opportunities and economic empowerment. He added that the issue of devolution was not a Matebeleland issue but was mentioned in Mashonaland East, Harare and Mashonaland West. . “Devolution should not be taken as a tribal issue”, he reiterated. Qhubani Moyo went on further to state that during the outreach phase 98% wanted to elect provincial government.
- Honourable Mwonzora cleared the air on the devolution issue as he said that the constitution had made provisions for devolution but the sticking point was on the composition of the provincial assemblies. This provision had been made because during the outreach process people had overwhelmingly said that they wanted a unitary state with principles of devolution. It had also been taken into account that people had viewed Devolution of power as a means of enhancing participatory governance, transparency and accountability, good governance and equitable development in the country.
- Dr. Manyeruke regarded devolution as a divisive mechanism among united people. She highlighted that devolution was for developed countries with enough resources for all sectors that are vital for people’s survival. She said that in Zimbabwe devolution was not viable because some provinces had more economic resources compared to others, hence devolution could easily result in some regions entertaining notions of breaking away from the rest of the country. Thus devolution could perpetrate unequal distribution of resources leading to other areas being underdeveloped.
- All speakers except Professor Madhuku described the public outreach phase of the constitution making process which was basically soliciting views from the people through oral and written submission of people’s views and recommendations to the government as a success. Professor Madhuku highlighted that the NCA was disappointed from the initial phase of the constitution making process by the type of Commission which was chosen as it included members from political parties. He reaffirmed that from the NCA standpoint they we ready to vote for a NO to the constitution as they view the constitution as not the will of the people but the confusion from the political parties.
- The second “parked issue” that was discussed was on dual citizenship; and those who argued for it such as Honourable Mwonzora reaffirmed the MDC-T’s party position on that it wants dual citizenship, because no one should take one’s birthright away just because one is no longer residing in Zimbabwe.
In conclusion the public asked the COPAC team to finalize the draft constitution which has taken longer than expected. It is regarded as high time that the citizens be provided with a meaningful opportunity to hear about the draft in which in it are laws that will govern them. But it remains questionable whether the people have any control over the final product.
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