New constitution gives President ‘more’ power – Chinamasa


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ZIMBABWE – The new draft constitution does not reduce Presidential powers but makes it more easy for the President to exercise his power effectively giving him more power, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.

Chinamasa said no presidential powers had been whittled in the draft. “We just followed what you said during the outreach programme that the President should exercise the powers without hindrance from anyone,” he said.

“The President, who should be above 40 years and a citizen by birth or descent, has power to declare war and peace without questioning. “He has the power to deploy soldiers in and outside the country and he should not ask Parliament to do that.” The President, Chinamasa said, would appoint the Attorney-General and Prosecutor-General.

“The office of the AG has been split into two and the AG would advise Government and sit in Cabinet and the office of the prosecuting authority will be led by the Prosecutor General. Both appointments will be done by the President,” said Cde Chinamasa. “Nothing has been taken away from the President. The President will appoint Cabinet and can hire or fire a Cabinet member anytime.”

Chinamasa said running mates would only be effected after 10 years from the day the new Constitution comes into place. “Before those 10 years, if a presidential vacancy arises, the party of the departed president will provide a successor within 90 days,” he said.

Chinamasa said some of the issues traditional leaders were complaining about would be resolved after general elections. “The new Constitution provides that they will be in charge of communal land. They wanted land taken under the land reform, but we agreed with them that such an issue needs time and the ideal time would be after elections,” he said.

“For now, that land is State land and is administered by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement.” Minister Chinamasa urged party supporters not to take instructions from non-governmental organisations.

“When it is about voter education, do not allow outsiders to educate you because you will be misled. Most NGOs have got hidden agendas hence the need to exercise caution.”

Meanwhile, PARTIES in the inclusive Government have started mobilising their supporters to vote “Yes” for the draft Constitution in the referendum, with officials holding separate rallies countrywide to educate their followers on the contents of the draft.

The three parties have agreed to campaign for the draft Constitution in the referendum expected next month. Zanu-PF officials yesterday took the draft to all the 10 provinces where senior party officials explained the draft to members of the provincial executive, national consultative assembly, central committee and Politburo.

MDC-T held rallies in most parts of the country yesterday conscientising its members on the proposed new charter. Addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters in Harare yesterday, the party’s deputy secretary for legal affairs Patrick Chinamasa said everyone had a right to make decisions from an informed position during the referendum.

He explained how contentious issues that included dual citizenship, the executive, devolution and running mates had been resolved.

“I urge you to be united and endorse the draft because it safeguards the values of the liberation struggle and states that we should be masters of our destiny. “The Constitution-making process is a journey and we are not yet there because Zimbabweans have not yet voted for the draft. It will only be complete once you endorse it.”

MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora said they had started summarising the draft Constitution to their supporters. “We have already started and as I speak I am in Nyanga while other officials are holding similar rallies countrywide with the aim of educating the masses on the contents of the new law,” he said.

“We are summarising the draft for people to understand the contents before the referendum. We have agreed that there will be no material changes to the draft and there is no reason why we should not take it to the people.”

MDC spokesperson Mr Kurauone Chihwayi said their provincial and national executive members had been taken through all sections of the draft.

“The party’s leadership has taken them through the draft and as they are holding their campaign rallies, they will explain the contents to the people,” he said. “We are confident that the people of Zimbabwe will support their product by voting “Yes”. We played a pivotal role in this process and we are now going to complete by endorsing the draft.”

Parliament has adopted the draft Constitution and the referendum will pave way for elections that would end the troubled inclusive Government that came into effect in 2009 after disputes surrounding the presidential elections held in 2008. It took the political parties four years to come with a draft Constitution.

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