Draft constitution tabled in Parliament for debate

HARARE - A much-awaited draft on Zimbabwe’s constitution — to pave way for key elections in the country — was yesterday tabled in Parliament for debate today and Thursday, as it is expected to take centre stage in both houses this week.

Douglas Mwonzora, the Constitutional Select Committee (Copac) co-owner, yesterday gave notice in the House of Assembly that he is to present a motion for debate today, whilst Matabeland North governor Thokozile Mathuthu did the same in Senate.

In the Lower House,  speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo informed the legislators to collect the draft copy in chambers for them to acquaint themselves with the paper — and a similar message conveyed to senators by Senate president Ednah Madzongwe.

The parliamentary process is a key stage in the constitution-making process, which will be consummated by a referendum anticipated in late March.

After the draft was approved by global political agreement (GPA) principals, including President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara last week, Copac’s duty would be to publicise the matter — and notwithstanding the fact that the three political parties are already mobilising for a “Yes” vote.

Eric Matinenga, the Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister, told the Daily News that the draft was for MPs’ information only.

“It is only if there is a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum that it will be gazetted as a Bill, which they will be asked to pass,” he said.

Only the Copac report will be debated and debate is expected to end on Thursday, with the adoption of the report,” the MDC legislator said, adding “the draft report was likely to be approved by Parliament”.

In January, GPA principals called in Moses Chinhengo, constitutional law expert Brian Coetzee and Priscilla Madzonga, among the original drafters, together with the three Copac co-chairs, including Paul Mangwana and Edward Mkhosi, to incorporate the remaining outstanding issues before it could be brought before parliament.

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