Parties must compromise on draft – MDC

THE constitution-making process goes a gear-up on Sunday when the three-day Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference opens in Harare.

NewsDay this week spoke to the three Copac chairpersons, Edward Mkhosi (MDC), Paul Munyaradzi Mangwana (Zanu PF) and Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T), to find out their party positions ahead of the conference.

The parties go into the conference divided on issues to do with devolution, executive powers, dual citizenship, creation of an independent national prosecuting authority and the establishment of a constitutional court, among others.

Our Senior Parliamentary Reporter Veneranda Langa (ND) spoke to Mkhosi (EM), who called for compromise among the political parties on the draft constitution. He said Zimbabweans should have the final say on the draft during the referendum.  Below are the excerpts.

ND:  What is your party position on the draft constitution?
EM: We know that the draft as it is now does not satisfy us 100% in terms of issues in it, especially the issue of devolution of power.  We agreed there shall be an electoral college to choose governors, but other political parties’ views had to be accommodated.  As a result of accommodating others, we went down to 75% of what we wanted included in the constitution as a party.  We want other political parties to understand we should all be humble and ensure there is compromise on the document we worked on together.

ND: What are your differences with other political parties and how do you intend to iron them out?
EM:  The major difference between the MDC and other political parties is that they are focusing on winning the elections and are using this process as a manifesto to say they will do this and that for  the people if they vote for them.  We are looking beyond political party manifestos and want a constitution that is going to be relevant for many more years.  We want a constitution that includes the wishes of the people.  What we want is that the promises we gave while signing the GPA (Global Political Agreement) should be followed, for example, that the military should not interfere in elections.  We are also a party that is non-violent and we had agreed to move forward with other political parties despite the political differences.  The draft that we have right now should guide us on what to take and we should also listen to suggestions by people during the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference.  If we force our political party views, people are going to throw them away.

ND:  If other stakeholders decide on views that contradict what is already in the draft, what will be the way forward cognisant of the fact that the GPA is silent on how amendments to the draft can be made, and by whom?  Can Parliament make amendments?
EM: There should only be improvement of the draft, replacement has no room as there cannot be a complete overhaul of the draft.  Amendments will only be tolerated in order to improve the words in the draft, not to change them completely.

Parliament can also make amendments within the framework of the existing draft.   After the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference, the Constitution Bill will be brought before Parliament so that it is made into law.  It is, therefore, not necessary to have political parties bickering because it is a give-and-take document.  No one can claim victory over the constitution – we should all come out saying we have won or we have lost.  Political parties can only improve, but not tamper with the document.

ND: Do you foresee a stalemate during the conference given the MDCs and Zanu PF have different views?
EM: If any of the three parties comes with an attitude of wanting to be a winner, then there will be a stalemate.  However, if all the three parties are prepared to compromise, we are going to succeed.  People should not try to impose the will of their political parties.  We will not give in to the stalemate.  We should only allow the people of Zimbabwe to speak for themselves during the referendum to say whether they like the draft or not.  No one is the godfather of Zimbabwe and people should be allowed to decide on their own.

ND: What do you think is the way forward in case of a stalemate?
EM: We are not going to let Zimbabweans down.  We stood with them in 1999 when someone decided to tamper with the document and the people’s views were going to be compromised.  We are going to do the same if someone tries that again.

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