COPAC co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora has defended the short time Zimbabweans were given to study the draft constitution before the referendum, saying the document must be passed before Parliament is dissolved in June.
Report by Everson Mushava
President Robert Mugabe last week set aside March 16 for the referendum and the decision is now being challenged at the High Court by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).
The NCA, whose case will be heard today, says at least two months are needed to study the draft if people are to make an informed decision during the referendum.
But Mwonzora, who is also the MDC-T spokesperson, told a public meeting organised by Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe in Harare on Wednesday night that the inclusive government was rushing against time. He was reacting to questions from Mavombo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba Makoni and Job Sikhala of MDC 99 who wanted to know why the government appeared to be in a hurry to organise the vote.
Mwonzora said once Parliament was dissolved, Mugabe will call the shots.
“The term of Parliament expires end of June,” he said.
“We need time to align some laws with the new constitution before Parliament is dissolved.
“Anything thereafter will be a one-man band.
“We would not want a situation where one person, the President alone, runs all the affairs of the country.”
Mwonzora accused Makoni, Sikhala and International Socialist Organisation co-ordinator Munyaradzi Gwisai of turning against Copac after initially endorsing the process.
Sikhala and Gwisai said they would campaign for a “No” vote during the referendum, but Makoni said his party was yet to decide on how its supporters should vote.
Makoni said it was baffling that Copac, which was never in a hurry to complete the constitution-making process, now wanted to conclude the exercise in an unreasonable time.
“Why give people only three weeks? You say the draft represents an incremental gain, why do we give people half a loaf when they deserve a full loaf?” the former Zanu PF politburo member queried.
He said Zimbabwe did not have a constitutional crisis, but a crisis of poor governance, corruption, greed and lack of constitutionalism.
But Zanu PF deputy director of information Psychology Maziwisa said the Copac document was a product of compromise.
He said Mugabe was eager to move the country forward and would ensure the new supreme law is implemented.
“What are you hiding from people? I will vote against this document. It restores colossal executive powers for the President,” Sikhala said. The former MP said he did not understand why the MDC formations agreed to a draft constitution that will result in a bloated government.
“We will not allow the increasing of criminals and thieves in our country,” Sikhala said.
Zanu PF and the MDC formations have pledged to campaign for the adoption of the constitution at the referendum.