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Thousands defy government’s ‘No’ campaign

Efforts by the government of Zimbabwe to derail the National Constitutional Assembly’s (NCA) All Stakeholders Conference on a new national constitution failed on Sunday, as thousands of delegates thronged the Harare International Conference Centre for the conference, agencies reported. Over 3,000 delegates from a broad coalition of civic groups attended the conference. They gave the NCA the mandate to oversee the drafting of a new constitution. On Saturday the ruling ZANU-PF party sponsored a full page advert in the state-run ‘Herald’ newspaper urging people not to be part of the NCA-driven process. Although ZANU-PF did not attend, 30 organisations and political parties made presentations, while others opted not to speak. Last year, President Robert Mugabe proposed a new constitution which would have increased his powers. It was rejected after a successful campaign by the NCA, which has undertaken its own consultation exercise among Zimbabweans to produce a new draft. The government’s newspaper advertisements accused NCA members of taking money from Mugabe’s western critics and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to undermine his government. “Say ‘No’, don’t be used by the MDC/NCA/donor alliances ever again,” said one of the ads. But the chairman of Saturday’s gathering - university lecturer John Makumbe - told delegates Zimbabweans must have a constitution acceptable to the majority. “We owe it to ourselves to say ‘no’ to bad governance. We owe it to our children to ensure democracy in our country,” Makumbe said.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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