Its now time for sober thinking

HARARE - The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Zimbabwe Constitution.

But that right is subject to certain rules and regulations and those restrictions are precisely for events such as the ongoing Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference.

It is absolutely imperative that the ongoing conference is firstly, peaceful and secondly orderly.

The government, for instance, cannot allow the ongoing Second All-Stakeholders Conference to descend into chaos as what happened at the first Constitutional conference in July 2009.

Delegates must not be driven by narrow vested interests.

They must think long-term and convince their colleagues at the conference why they have adopted their respective positions.

Zimbabweans presented their views on the Constitution. These views were collected and harmonised by legal experts.

Zimbabweans must be sober and know that for the first time, this is the Constitution in which they have been architects.

Being their child, an awesome opportunity confronts them either to go by the old Constitution in which they had no say or the new Constitution which gives them room to express their opinions and make amendments.

From independence, Zimbabweans never owned the process of writing their Constitution. The Lancaster House Conference that hastily canvassed a constitution for the country was fraught to the end, with suspicions by selected leaders of different political groups against each other.

Nonetheless, they managed to broker a graceful consensus that furnished Zimbabwe with a constitution, hence paving the way for independence.

Subsequent amendments to the independence Constitution, and their negative impact on Zimbabwe’s social, political and economic fabric, ignited the clamour for constitutional reforms, hence the ongoing Parliament-led constitution-making process.

The ongoing constitutional conference must conscientiously examine the draft with sober minds.

There is no need for partisan positions taken by the governing parties.

The entrenched positions set the scene for unnecessary political fights.

The proposed text is the largest overhaul of Zimbabwe’s Constitution since independence from Britain in 1980 and has drawn fierce criticism from supporters and detractors.

The draft significantly whittles down the President’s powers — but apparently the draft does not sufficiently curb the President’s power.

There is no need for violent clashes at this conference as Zimbabweans will decide whether or not to endorse the proposals in a referendum to be conducted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) before the end of the year.

At last, Zimbabweans have a long-awaited chance to chart their future, a future for coming generations and that of the country. - Staff Writer

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