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Mugabe's Attempts to Take Over Draft Constitution Angers NGOs

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has embarked on a mobilization campaign urging local people to unite against President Robert Mugabe’s bid to usurp the powers of the select committee writing the country’s new constitution.

Mr. Mugabe on Monday said unity government principals will have the final say on the draft charter before it is submitted to parliament.

The select committee was expected to compile a final draft and a national report following the second all stakeholders’ conference that ended Tuesday.

But in what legal experts are calling a violation of the global political agreement, which led to the formation of the unity government, the president is digging in and asking the parliamentary constitution select committee to handover the process.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is urging local people to collectively engage in what the civic groups have dubbed a ‘Save the Constitution Campaign’ in a bid to stop the president from taking over the proccess.

The move has been endorsed by another coalition of civic groups comprising the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Mr. Mugabe is allegedly under pressure from some of his own party members, notably his chief negotiators in the management committee of the constitution-making process, who want the parliamentary committee to hand over the charter to parliament and not the principals.

Regional coordinator Phillan Zamchiya of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition tells VOA it is important for Zimbabweans to unite in order to halt Mr. Mugabe’s overtures.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is reported to have made a u-turn after agreeing earlier with Mr. Mugabe that the principals will have the final say on the draft constitution before it goes to parliament.

Mr. Tsvangirai now wants the draft charter to go straight to parliament.

Meanwhile, a coalition of civic society organizations monitoring the constitution revision process, the Zimbabwe Independent Constitution Monitoring Project (ZICOMP), says the second all stakeholders' conference was marred by several irregularities.

They organizations claim that the conference ended without clarity, a situation the group says has increased tension in the unity government and opportunities for political manipulation.