Tsvangirai says no to Mugabe

HARARE - The MDC says it has resisted Zanu PF demands to amend the draft constitution and is hoping that today’s meeting between its leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and security sector commanders will help end militarisation of civilian life.

Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary general, said his party will not allow Zanu PF to railroad amendments that have a bearing on the free conduct of elections next year.

Zanu PF has made 24 amendments to the Copac-written draft constitution but Biti yesterday said only piecemeal concessions have been given to Zanu PF, while major issues such as the issue of a running mate, the whittling of presidential powers, devolution and the establishment of a prosecuting authority have not been altered.

While Mugabe says Principals — Tsvangirai and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube and himself, have the final say on the contents of the final draft, Biti said the people of Zimbabwe are the prime principals.

“We remain committed to the Copac (the parliamentary body charged with writing a new constitution) draft. This final draft should be taken to the people of Zimbabwe who are the true principals."

“We have resolved to resist attempts by Zanu PF to revise the draft constitution. Any changes that have been made to the draft have been very few and insignificant, because we agreed before the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference that where there is agreement there will be no changes,” said Biti after a national council meeting yesterday.

Faced with an unyielding MDC, Mugabe has in the past threatened to declare elections with or without a new constitution.

But Biti yesterday said Tsvangirai as a Principal will have a say on the date for the much-awaited election as the “date for the next election will be process-driven”.

Among other reforms that the MDC insists should be met before polls are held are security sector realignment, media reform and a brand new voter registration exercise.

The MDC’s last national council meeting this year also resolved to adopt a code of conduct for the beckoning watershed election and a referendum.

“...urges the endorsement of the Code of Conduct for Political Parties by the Facilitator to the Zimbabwe dialogue, Sadc and the African Union as guarantors to the Zimbabwe dialogue,” read one of the party’s resolutions.

Today, Tsvangirai will come face to face with security chiefs some of whom have vowed not to salute him even if he is elected by the majority.

Biti said the National Security Council meeting which includes service chiefs, security ministers and Mugabe at State House will discuss the continued incarceration of five MDC activists who are still languishing in remand prison.

“Our comrades who are still incarcerated should not be in prison at all. We are concerned that our members are still incarcerated, they deserve to be free. We are going to raise this point at the National Security Council meeting tomorrow (today).”

Biti said the meeting will also discuss the resurgence of violence in different parts of the country after the national council noted the re-establishment of torture bases and a renewed onslaught on civilians allegedly by Zanu PF activists.

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