Zimbabwe: PM, Mugabe Clash

Paris — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has warned that using the so-called Kariba Draft as the sole reference material for the country's new supreme law will undermine the ongoing consultations in another sign of major differences in strategy with President Robert Mugabe on how to implement the long-awaited reforms.

Mugabe last week told the Zanu PF National Consultative Assembly that the new constitution must be anchored on the Kariba Draft that was agreed on by Zanu PF and the two MDC formations in September 2007.

But Tsvangirai told The Standard on Thursday that using the draft as the only reference point will render meaningless the ongoing consultations on the draft constitution, which is one of the major benchmarks of the September 15, 2008 power-sharing agreement.

"I do not think that insisting on anchoring the new constitution on that draft alone makes any sense," Tsvangirai said after meeting French Prime Minister Francois Fillion in Paris.

"We have so many drafts such as the one from the NCA that can be used as the basis for the new constitution.

"Consultations are not only important to legitimise the process but also the substance." The Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitution says it has received more than four drafts including one from MDC-T that proposes decentalisation of power.

However, the Prime Minister whose party is at loggerheads with Zanu PF over the implementation of their power-sharing deal, downplayed any differences with Mugabe saying the veteran leader could have been quoted out of context.

Tsvangirai said Mugabe assured him that the Kariba draft will only be used as a reference point.

Mugabe is said to favour the Kariba draft because it would leave his over-arching powers intact, while the MDC-T risks losing a key constituency in civil society if it gives in to Mugabe's demands.

The constitution-making process led by a parliamentary select committee began consultations last week under a cloud of suspicion with civic groups threatening to stay away because of fears that the four-month-old government will impose the Kariba draft on Zimbabweans.

Tsvangirai found an ally in Paul Mangwana, the Zanu PF co-chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee.

Mangwana yesterday publicly differed with President Mugabe on the use of the Kariba draft.

Mangwana told Bulawayo residents who turned up for the public consultation meeting that his committee would not use the Kariba Draft as a reference point.

"This process will be people-driven and any draft on the new constitution will come from the people and not from any one political party. The Kariba Draft is one such draft that will not be used as the basis for a new constitution," Mangwana said.

The public consultation meeting was held at the Large City Hall and was attended by hundreds of Bulawayo residents.

Consultative hearings on a new constitution began on Wednesday and will lead to an all-stakeholders' national conference on July 10, where thematic committees will be selected to collate the public's views on what they want included in the constitution.

Mangwana said his committee would push for the new constitution to be made a mandatory subject in schools.

"We hope that the constitution will be mandatory subject at schools so that Zimbabweans know and respect their constitution," Mangwana said.

Editor Mathabisa, a member of the committee urging Bulawayo residents to ignore those who said the draft would be the reference point, added: "It is not a crime that people say we are basing this process on the Kariba draft because everyone has a right to their own views.

"We are starting on a clean page. We are not using The Kariba draft as a reference point."

However the Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa on Friday insisted the Kariba Draft Constitution would form the basis of the new constitution.

Addressing journalists at Chinhoyi Press Club on Friday evening, Chinamasa said there is no way the Kariba Draft can be thrown away after all the efforts from MDC formations and Zanu PF.

He said Advocate Eric Matinenga, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs was wrong in saying the draft would not be used.

"I'm sure you have all seen the draft it is signed page by page, all that to throw it into the bin, into the toilet. Do you believe that?

"To spend time signing that just to throw it into the Blair toilet, no, no, no it can't be."

Chinamasa also shed light on how work on the draft started. He said the drafting was not an overnight event but it was a process that had begun way back in 2002.

He revealed that after the Presidential elections in 2002 he was assigned to work on the constitution together with the then MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube to come up with a draft acceptable to both parties.

In startling revelations, he said he would meet and write the draft with Ncube at his home. They were later joined by Nicholas Goche and Tendai Biti in 2007. That process culminated in its adoption in Kariba.

Chinamasa said despite criticisms, he was confident the Kariba draft would be the one to be presented for the referendum.

"Anyway at the end of the day what ever comes from this process must first be agreed to by all the political parties. I am sure Advocate Matinenga realises that unless he is naïve."

Tsvangirai, who returns home today after a three-week tour of the United States and Europe was told that the international community will not extend any development aid to the unity government in the absence of sufficient reforms.

Fillion and French Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner told Tsvangirai in separate meetings that progress in media reforms, the restoration of the rule of law and a new democratic constitution would unlock desperately needed aid for the country's reconstruction.

"After four months we have peace and stability. There is progress and I would be the last one to say everything is rosy. The concern you have is accepted, is a legitimate concern. The media are going to re-open," Tsvangirai said at a joint press conference with Kouchner.

Kouchner also told the Prime Minister that his government expected French farmers covered under Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAS) to be protected against the resurgent land invasions in the country.

Several French farmers have been targeted in the ongoing invasions, which Tsvangirai tried to downplay during an earlier visit to Britain.

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai says his three-week sojourn was a success despite yielding only humanitarian aid for the country.

"When we left Zimbabwe we were very clear about the objective of this mission and that was to re-engage the international community and also to resume dialogue with the European Union under Article 9 (of the Cotonou agreement)," he said.

"We are going back home proud that we were able to meet all the leaders and there has been a positive perception created by this trip, which also represented the re-opening of minds on the Zimbabwe situation."

He said the close to US$10 billion needed for the country's reconstruction will not be raised overnight.

On his visit to France he was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Tourism minister Walter Mzembi.






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