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Minister expresses referendum fears


LUPANE — Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga yesterday said he was personally not supportive of the idea of holding the referendum this Saturday.

Report by Nqobile Bhebhe

He said the timeframe allocated for publicity campaigns for the draft charter was too short. Matinenga made the remarks while responding to questions posed to his team during a Copac publicity campaign meeting held in Lupane, Matabeleland North.

“I was not involved in coming up with the March 16 date for the referendum,” he said.

“If I had my way, I would not have settled for the date.
“However let’s make the best of the worst situation by voting “Yes” for the draft.”

Speaking at the same meeting, a Lupane female villager said the draft had not been publicised.

“You are aware minister that women in Zimbabwe are not educated,” she said.

“The time given to go through the contents is too little. However, we will just vote ‘Yes’ as we are being told to do so.”

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku took President Robert Mugabe to the High Court seeking a postponement of the referendum arguing that people needed at least two months to study the draft.

High Court judge Justice George Chiweshe dismissed Madhuku’s application two weeks ago, but the NCA leader has appealed to the Supreme Court to review the judgment.

Meanwhile, Lupane villagers at the meeting raised concern about harassment by police when planning meetings to drum up support for the draft constitution.

They said the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) should be set aside to pave way for smooth campaigns.

Matinenga said he recently wrote a letter to Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Home Affairs co-ministers Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone to have provisions of Posa “banned”.

“Since I have been away from Harare for a while, I don’t know if there is a response on the matter,” he said. “Police should work in liaison with stakeholders.

“I read in the NewsDay today that a meeting meant to be addressed by none other than the Prime Minister was cancelled by police in Harare. That’s unfortunate. In fact Posa should be repealed” he said.

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