Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change has given at least 20 reasons why Zimbabweans should vote Yes in the referendum for the country’s new constitution which will be held in three weeks.
The National Constitutional Assembly, which was a partner of the MDC in 2000 when it campaigned for people to reject the draft constitution that year and won, has filed an urgent application to stop the referendum which is due on 16 March.
NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku argued that the time set for the referendum was grossly inadequate in light of the importance and complexity of the opinion being sought from voters.
He also argued that no official copy of the draft constitution had been distributed. There were no translated versions of the draft constitution and no simplified versions.
Here are the 20 reasons given by the MDC:
- There is devolution of power and responsibilities to lower tiers of government and especially to the provincial tiers of government.
- The President has a limited term of office of a maximum of two five year terms. Other key officers of the state including commanders of security services, permanent secretaries, the clerk of parliament also have limited terms of office.
- Dual or multiple citizenship is guaranteed in respect of all Zimbabwean citizens by birth. Multiple or dual citizenship is allowed in respect of Zimbabwean citizens by descent and registration although this may be prohibited by an act of parliament.
- The people formerly commonly referred to as aliens, who were born in Zimbabwe but of parents from the SADC region are now Zimbabweans by birth and as such they are entitled to vote or be voted for.
- All Zimbabwean citizens irrespective of circumstance are entitled to vote and are entitled to free and fair elections without any form of violence and other electoral malpractices
- All Zimbabwean workers, including civil servants have a right to fair and reasonable wages, as well as fair and safe labour standards and practices.
- All Zimbabwean workers including civil servants have the right to collective bargaining for the determination of their wages and other conditions of service.
- There is now an independent National Prosecuting Authority in charge if all criminal prosecutions meaning that the Attorney General being legal advisor to government no longer has prosecuting powers.
- All security services are under the constitution and subject to parliamentary oversight. Members of security services cannot be members of political parties. They are not allowed to further or prejudice the interests of a political party or cause and shall observe fundamental rights and freedoms.
- There is now a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission which among other things deals with post conflict justice healing and reconciliation.
- Every Zimbabwean is entitled to free basic education.
- The elderly are entitled to reasonable care and assistance, health care and medical assistance, and social security and welfare from the state.
- Every child is entitled among other things to the provision of a birth certificate, education, health care services, nutrition and shelter. They may not be recruited into any militia.
- The veterans of the liberation struggle include those who fought in the war of liberation and those who assisted the fighters, detainees and restrictees. As such they are entitled to recognition and suitable welfare such as pension and access to basic health care.
- The people living with disabilities are now entitled to the means to make them more self reliant and to state funded education and treatment when they need it.
- There is now established a Constitutional Court which among other things deals with the protection of the people against human rights abuses.
- Every Zimbabwean person has freedom from torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.
- Every person has the right to personal security and has freedom from all forms of violence. Further every person has the right to privacy and against any entry or search of their homes property or premises.
- All elections are going to be held in the last month of the Presidential term meaning that the election period has been made certain.
- The Anti Corruption commission can direct the Commissioner General of police to investigate and act on alleged corruption and when so ordered the Commissioner General of police shall obey the directive.