WASHINGTON DC —
While the stakes may not be as high for Zimbabwe's main political parties in Saturday’s constitutional referendum, devolution is one issue the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations are scrambling to take credit for as they seek to curry favor with the public and angle for the general elections coming later this year.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told a public meeting in Bulawayo on Thursday that his party had fought hard for the inclusion of a devolved state in the draft charter.
But the MDC formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube quickly put out a statement saying it was in fact the Ncube party that pushed for devolution and not the Tsvangirai MDC.
If anything, the party said, Mr. Tsvangirai joined President Robert Mugabe in opposing the concept.
While devolution was endorsed by almost all the provinces, many people in Matabeleland region are so passionate about it they threatened to reject the charter if it did not empower provinces with self determination.
Putting the rhetoric aside, the draft spells out the objectives of devolution as to give local people powers to make decisions that affect them and "to recognise the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development,” among other things.
Ncube MDC spokesman Nhlanhla Dube explained more about what his party says are the benefits of a devolved state, including more equitable wealth distribution across the country.
"Clearly these statements by Tsvangirai show that he is a double-faced individual who takes the people of Matabeleland for granted because he chooses to lie in their faces," Dube said.
Tsvangirai MDC deputy organizing secretary Abednico Bhebhe dismissed the accusations saying the prime minister has never opposed a devolved state.
Throughout this week VOA Studio 7 has been reaching out to listeners to hear your views on the draft constitution and the referendum. We’ve heard a lot of views.
Many of you still say you haven’t seen the draft charter, as political parties in the unity government continue to urge people to adopt the document at the polls on Saturday.
Enias Dube of Hwange West said hundreds of people are expected to take part in the constitutional referendum, adding that he believes most Zimbabweans will vote yes.
Kadoma resident Max Maphosa said he is happy that the draft constitution has a provision ensuring that election results are announced as soon as possible.