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Constitution not partisan document — Speaker

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The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Lovemore Moyo, said recent reports in the media about his personal views on the constitution-making process had been grossly misrepresented.

Moyo, who still maintained that he would only support a constitution that took into account the views of the people, recently had a one-on-one with NewsDay’s senior parliamentary reporter Veneranda Langa (ND) to set the record straight and on many other related issues.

Below are the excerpts:

ND: What is your view on the current constitution-making process being carried out by a Parliamentary body, Copac?

LM: First and foremost this is a historical process that came as a result of Article VI of the Global Political Agreement which mandated Parliament to facilitate the making of a new Constitution hence why the Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) is leading the process.

The constitution-making process is on course as there is evident progress. I am advised that Copac is almost done with the thematic stage and also that the process has been inclusive having undertaken an outreach programme to solicit the views of the people. However, of concern is the pace at which the process is moving and a possible delay in finalising the new constitution.

ND:
Recently the media quoted you as having said you will not endorse the constitution unless it had evidence of being people driven and another time you were quoted as having said you will not endorse it unless it included the views of your political party. What is the correct position?

LM:
Let me say that I was misunderstood when I made those pronouncements at Brunapeg and White City Stadium. What I said was that, and I repeat: “If the outcome does not represent the views and aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe, I will not endorse that constitution”.

In other words, I will not support a document that seeks to undermine and marginalise the views expressed by the people during the outreach programme. Certainly, as a citizen of this country I will not associate myself with a constitution which is anti-people. In any case, it must be understood that this new constitution that we are making is not a partisan document but a national one therefore the wishes and aspirations of the people must come first.

ND:
At what stage will you as Speaker of the House of Assembly be required to endorse the new constitution?

LM: Constitutionally, once the Constitutional Bill has been tabled in the two houses, the Parliamentarians will have the opportunity to debate on it.

Once the Constitutional Bill is passed, the Constitution mandates the Speaker of the House of Assembly to issue a certificate indicating that the Bill received a two thirds majority vote of the House of Assembly.

In other words, the decision of passing the Constitutional Bill lies solely with the Members of Parliament but that does not mean that as an individual I cannot exercise my constitutional right to support or not support any Bill.

ND: As Speaker, what do you say are the requisites of a credible constitution?

LM:
A credible constitution must have the following components:
• Must be people driven and overwhelmingly endorsed by the majority of Zimbabweans.
•It must respond to the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe such as development needs, socio-economic needs and political needs.
•It has to guarantee fundamental human rights such as :

•The rights of the minority groups
•The rights of children and women
•The rights of people living with disabilities
•It must provide the right to life for all Zimbabweans; and
•Protect all forms of freedoms.
•It must embrace the democratic values and principles.
•It must recognise the independence and supremacy of independent commissions and institutions.
•It must embrace the devolution of power in order to allow provinces to determine their development priorities, hence deal with the long outstanding question of marginalisation and under-development in some provinces.

ND:
As an institution, would you say Parliament has been exemplary in adhering to the provisions of the Constitution. Give examples.

LM: Yes, we have been observing religiously the doctrine of separation of powers in the execution of our constitutional mandate. We have remained true to our constitutional responsibility that is to make laws, represent the people and exercising oversight over the Executive. Indeed, we have been observing the above stated constitutional provisions.

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