By Tichaona Sibanda
20 March 2013
The new constitution that was voted for overwhelmingly in a referendum on Saturday will only come into force on its promulgation by President Robert Mugabe, a top MDC-T official said on Wednesday.
Douglas Mwonzora, who as COPAC co-chairman was part of a committee that oversaw the drafting of the new charter, said it will come into effect when all the legal formalities are done.
‘The Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Eric Matinenga, is to gazette the Bill on the 28th of this month. This will give Zimbabweans a month to satisfy themselves that the document they voted for is the same that will be presented to Parliament.
‘When it is tabled before Parliament we don’t expect much debate because the people who are represented by their parliamentarians have already endorsed the document,’ said Mwonzora.
The Nyanga North MP told SW Radio Africa that he can only speculate when the country’s new constitution will become law, and that it could be the end of April.
Mwonzora said as COPAC they welcomed the adoption of the new constitution, saying it was going to be a victory for Zimbabwe and for the many people who fought long and hard for a new constitutional dispensation.
Final results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on Tuesday showed that nearly 95 percent of voters approved the constitution, compared with 5.5 percent who voted No, and the total votes cast turned out to be the highest in any poll since Independence in 1980, beating the previous record set in the 2002 presidential election.
Mwonzora explained that when the constitution does become law it will take effect in stages, but certain parts of the charter, such as the Bill of Rights, devolution, and chapters on elections, will take effect immediately and supersede the existing provisions that may be in conflict with them.
‘This means that citizens shall be able to enjoy the entitlements within the Bill of Rights as soon as it takes effect. Where Parliament will be required to enact some laws to effect some changes as stated in the proposed constitution, the current constitution shall apply,’
He emphasized that the forthcoming general election will be held under the regulations of the new constitution.
It is expected the principals might decide on a date for elections as early as next week, during their Monday meeting. However sources tell us that the principals could choose between two dates, June 29th and July 27th. Both dates fall on a Saturday.
Mwonzora said the most important thing was not a question of a date for election but the conditions they will be held under.
‘The most important question is the quality of those elections, the conditions under which they are going to be held. In our view as the MDC, we insist on elections held in free and fair environment under conditions that guarantee free expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe,’ said Mwonzora.