New constitution signed into law

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday signed Constitution Amendment Bill Number 20 into law, setting the stage for a gruelling election with coalition partner Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

After signing the new constitution, Mugabe took a dig at the regional grouping Sadc for trying to control Zimbabwe’s political processes.

Sadc, which is the guarantor of the power sharing Global Political Agreement, through its chosen facilitator South African President Jacob Zuma has been facilitating Zimbabwe’s political talks and has demanded a credible election.

“Some people in Sadc wanted to impose themselves and we said ‘no’, we can do it on our own,” Mugabe said referring to the drafting of the new constitution.

“We repulse interference, but yes, welcome complementarity. Interaction and alliance with others yes, but no to neo-colonialism,” Mugabe said.

He said Sadc was welcome to monitor processes in Zimbabwe such as the upcoming general election but Zimbabwe would not tolerate interference with political processes.

Zimbabwe’s new constitution took four years to complete owing to squabbling among the coalition partners.

The new constitution will replace the Lancaster House Constitution adopted at independence in 1980.

“For me this event is a happening of joy, great joy indeed, this is an event done by Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans. I am glad that this document we call our constitution now enables us to say we’re truly the makers of our constitution and demonstrates that we are one.

Different opinions, different religions, political differences, but we’re one,” Mugabe said.

Mugabe thanked his counterparts in the coalition government and the parliamentary committee which was involved in the crafting of the constitution for exuding political maturity and unity.

He proceeded to preach peace.

“People have a choice, we make choices every time, and you cannot honestly fight a girl for refusing to date you. You vote for the person of your choice. Let’s be peaceful and recognise we are one. Your destiny is my destiny, we want a progressive Zimbabwe,” said the Zanu PF leader.

Tsvangirai said the new constitution marked a new governance system.

“I am humbled by this occasion. And we want to congratulate you (Mugabe) for signing. I hope this time you did it and will go down a very satisfied man,” he told Mugabe.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference later in the afternoon, Tsvangirai said despite the signing of the new constitution into law, his office was still functional.

The MDC leader said the new supreme law, which does not provide for the office of the prime minister, has a provision for continued governance even when the current Parliament comes to an end in June.

“The Global Political Agreement makes reference to the executive powers, and these powers are vested in the office of the President, the Prime Minister and Cabinet. These are the people who will run the affairs of this country when the term of Parliament ends. If you read schedule six of the new constitution, it provides for transitional mechanisms and these mechanisms are going to be in place until the next president is sworn in under the new constitution,” Tsvangirai said. - Bridget Mananavire

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