ZANU PF, MDC battles stalling constitution process

June 21, 2011 at 5:24 am Leave a comment

by Irene Madongo

Zimbabwe’s controversial process to form a new constitution has been plunged into further crisis, as the infighting between the country’s political parties involved rages on. Parliament’s Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) has also confirmed that it is facing financial problems, which have added to its woes.

A key problem is that ZANU PF and the different MDC formations have reportedly reached a deadlock once again, over which method to use to analyse the data collected during the outreach process. The split is between quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative involves, for example, counting the number of times a certain issue was raised, while qualitative looks more in-depth at the aspects raised around an issue.

On Tuesday ZANU PF’s Paul Mangwana, who is also the co-chairman of COPAC told SW Radio Africa that his party’s approach differs from the MDC formations.

He said ZANU PF wants the information to be first assessed using the quantitative method, and the views should be assessed to see if they are in line with a modern-day constitution. After this process, ZANU PF then wants to use the qualitative method.

The MDC-T’s Douglas Mwonzora said although his party preferred the qualitative method, all parties had agreed to use both methods equally. But he said ZANU PF was now backtracking by wanting to emphasise the quantitative approach.

There is also a bitter feud over ZANU PF’s appointment of Brigadier-General Nyikayaramba to one of the thematic committees, set up to analyse the data. The MDC-T objects to the participation of Nyikayaramba saying he had already been disqualified from the outreach teams in 2009, when ZANU PF agreed to withdraw him from COPAC on the basis that he was a serving member of the army.

The MDC-T’s Mwonzora, who is also the COPAC co-chairperson, reportedly said: “This displays the usual arrogance of ZANU PF because the issue of Nyikayaramba was resolved as far back as October 2009 when ZANU PF, through Patrick Chinamasa, agreed to withdraw him from COPAC on the basis he was a serving member of the Zimbabwe National Army.”

The MDC is also worried that Nyikayaramba will not be objective as he has clearly pledged his allegiance to Robert Mugabe.

Meanwhile another COPAC insider has alleged there has been an ongoing fight between the smaller factions of the MDC, namely MDC-99 and the other led by Welshman Ncube’s faction.

On Monday, the MDC-99’s Aaron Muzungu told SW Radio Africa that his party had been kicked out of COPAC after a long campaign by the Ncube-faction to remove him. It is understood that Muzungu has been part of the COPAC team from the start. Muzungu said that despite the enmity from the Ncube representative, the two COPAC co-chairmen, Mangwana and Mwonzora, are backing him up and also want to ensure he gets paid.

“Honourable Mangwana was on my side and he stood by me even up to today. He phoned me telling me ‘you must get your monies, your allowances you must get them. I am standing for you’. I had decided earlier to take legal action, but Honourable Mwonzora informed me that he will deal with the issue until I get my money,” Muzungu said.

However, the MDC faction led by Ncube dismissed Muzungu’s allegations about their party.

Regarding the MDC-99’s participation in COPAC, Mangwana explained that the party was never mean to be involved as it did not qualify to participate. Only those parties who participated in the 2008 elections can take part, which excludes the MDC-99, he explained.

“Those who participated in the last general election are political parties which have shown an interest in participating in [the] political process in the country, and that’s how we arrived at the benchmark of March 2008,” Mangwana explained.

Mangwana added that Muzungu’s presence all along as a representative of MDC-99 was an error that went unnoticed. He said it was discovered he had been operating as a rapporteur, and therefore he should be paid for his services. However he strongly denied that ZANU PF backed the official presence of the MDC-99’s Muzungu in COPAC , saying: “We don’t back him, but what we said was that if a person did work, then he can be paid on the basis that he rendered a service although he was not entitled officially to do so.”

Added to the raging battles between the parties, COPAC work has had to be stalled also because, once again, it is facing a shortage of funds. Mangwana confirmed that the organisation needs US$1,8m to move ahead and is looking to the government to bolster their finances.

It was hoped that the constitution process would have been completed this year, with a referendum marked for September. This gave hope that elections could be held in the first quarter of 2012. However observers say that with such setbacks, the constitution is unlikely to be ready by the end of this year.

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