By Tererai Karimakwenda
17 May, 2012
The current draft of Zimbabwe’s new charter appears to have thrown ZANU PF into crisis mode, with the party holding a seven-hour politburo meeting Wednesday and submitting a position paper outlining changes they want made.
The 29-page document submitted to the constitutional select committee (COPAC) has already been dismissed by some activists and observers, who said ZANU PF is proposing “wholesale changes” to the COPAC draft, taking the country back to the “Kariba Draft” rejected by Zimbabweans in 2000.
That draft was widely seen as a government produced document that did not adequately reduce the executive powers of the President, as recommended by the people during the outreach period.
Dewa Mavhinga from the Crisis Coalition said the ZANU PF response is basically an attempt to replace much of the text in the new draft with clauses from the Kariba Draft, which he said is “wrong and improper” because it ignores what the people said they wanted.
On the problematic issue of devolution of powers, ZANU PF is proposing what they called “decetralisation”, which is similar to what was proposed in the Kariba Draft and different from what COPAC proposed.
Dewa said ZANU PF is also pushing for a restructuring of controversial powers of the Attorney General, which had been removed under the new draft and assigned to a new independent National Prosecuting Authority.
“These are far reaching and proposals that seek to fundamentally change the contents of the draft submitted to by COPAC to the management committee and to the principals in the coalition government,” Mavhinga explained.
The activist said the political landscape has changed significantly and ZANU PF no longer has the monopoly to dictate the terms Zimbabweans should accept. “We need to stand firm and resolute and demand a free and fair election after a referendum with no violence,” he added.
This latest development is bound to cause more delays to the constitution making process, which is already far behind schedule and must be completed before a fresh poll is held. Delays in completing a draft mean delays in holding a referendum and extending the life of the failed coalition government.
Madock Chivasa from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) dismissed the whole process as a waste of time and resources, recommending that COPAC be disbanded and people’s views be respected.
Chivasa said there should be no debate by the political parties over the views submitted by the people during the outreach process. “The process was not supposed to be driven by the politicians that will be served by it. As NCA we had emphasized the need for an independent commission,” he added.
Chivasa said ZANU PF would never accept or approve a constitution that can diminish their powers and lead to truly democratic elections.