Zanu PF attempts to stop new Constitution drafting absurd

January 31, 2012 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

By Dewa Mavhinga 

HARARE – The extremely slow and costly constitutional reform process, having gone through an outreach process, albeit one marred by violence and chaos, has now reached the drafting stage.

Thereafter the constitutional draft will be presented to Parliament for debate before being subjected to a national referendum for acceptance or rejection by the electorate.

For Zanu PF supporters and sections of war veterans to seek to stop drafting of the Constitution is ridiculous because, at the end, everyone will get an opportunity to decide whether they want the constitution or not through a national referendum.

There have been several attempts to stop drafting of the constitution to the extent that Parliamentary Constitutional Select Committee (Copac) — comprising MPs from Zanu PF and the two MDC formations — had to move the constitutional drafters to a “secret” location hundreds of kilometres from Harare.

However, soon enough the identity of the secret location was disclosed and rowdy individuals threatening violence stormed the venue forcing drafters to flee for dear life. We understand that the drafting is continuing at yet another secure location.

Numerous reasons put forward by Zanu PF supporters and their allies for seeking to stop the drafting process are baffling and totally perplexing.

They argue that, from a “leaked” version of the constitutional draft — they do not agree with the contents because they do not reflect the views of the people gathered during the outreach and as such the drafters must be stopped immediately.

They also argue that drafters are coming up with their own views unrelated to the wishes of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Finally they argue that views of Zanu PF supporters are not reflected and as such constitutional reform must be set aside, Copac must be dissolved and the inclusive government ended to make way for fresh elections.

Firstly, the three very experienced and professional main constitutional drafters are Zanu PF nominees agreed to by the main political parties involved in the constitutional reform process.

The drafters surely deserve to be left to do what they know best without undue political interference.

Secondly, the constitutional reform process has a clear provision for ordinary Zimbabweans to give their input regarding the new constitution — at the stage of the referendum.

It boggles the mind why Zanu PF supporters and their allies would want to pre-empt a process clearly outlined in the Global Political Agreement’s article 6, unless there are ulterior motives for their actions.

In any case, the drafting is incomplete, and the document has not been presented to the public.

The referendum stage will surely come, when everyone will be able to express their view on the constitution through the ballot.

Perhaps these ridiculous attempts to stop the drafting of the constitution are driven by fear that the Supreme Law in the making will seek justice for past egregious human rights’ abuses where some Zanu PF supporters maybe implicated, such as the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, the violent and chaotic farm invasions, the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina and the electoral violence in the lead up to the June 2008 presidential run-off election.

That fear is well-founded because any serious constitution must surely provide a framework to address past injustices and abuses.

Another hidden agenda in the attempt to disrupt the constitutional reform process at this stage would be to render the inclusive government totally disyfunctional so as to provide an excuse call for early elections in the absence of critical reforms that would make those elections non-violent, free and fair.

This is made worse by Sadc leaders who are taking their time to appoint Troika representatives to work directly with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee in monitoring the full implementation of the GPA.

Sadc should be closely monitoring the constitutional reform process in order to expose any machinations or attempts to stop the process in favour of sham elections.

**Dewa Mavhinga, Regional Co-ordinator, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

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