By Tererai Karimakwenda
16 August 2012
The mediator on Zimbabwe’s political crisis, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, has described the current stalemate over the draft constitution as a minor hitch after meeting the coalition leaders in Harare on Wednesday.
The South African President met separately with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe and Welshman Ncube in Harare on Wednesday. He was briefed on progress in the Constitutional reform exercise and the GPA, in preparation for the SADC summit starting in Maputo, Mozambique on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after the meetings Zuma said there has been “some movement forward, although there are some hitches here and there, but they are not as major as they used to be”.
Mugabe, who also addressed journalists, said: “We’ve considered the draft and we’ve made amendments to the draft. We’ll meet as principals to exchange our ideas.”
This drew strong criticism from the Crisis Coalition and the MDC formations, who have already adopted the draft as the final version to be taken to a referendum.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters that some of the disagreements would be discussed at the SADC summit on Friday.
MDC-N spokesman Nhlanhla Dube told SW Radio Africa that their president Welshman Ncube had briefed President Zuma on the draft charter and the time for political negotiations is over. Dube said the party position is that Zimbabweans must go to a second All Stakeholders Conference to decide.
“All the issues were negotiated with express instructions from the political parties. The negotiators consulted their top leadership so there is nothing new. Enough concessions have been made and time for negotiations is finished,” Dube said.
Regarding the “hitches” President Zuma spoke about, Dube said there is a deliberate effort to stall progress on the draft charter by some factions within ZANU PF.
Okay Machisa from the Crisis Coalition agreed and insisted the document does not belong to ZANU PF. He said negotiations have been going on for a very long time and the draft was agreed on through consultations with all the political parties.
“It is shocking that one party would make a u-turn and demand further amendments after all the negotiations are done. It is time to let the people of Zimbabwe decide and move on,” Machisa told SW Radio Africa.
Regarding Zuma’s comments that some “hitches” remained, Machisa said: “The issue of the constitution should not be described as minor. It is a major issue for Zimbabweans. Maybe President Zuma was trying to soften it because he knows that SADC will make it mandatory for this document to sail through.”
The ZANU PF politburo was scheduled to meet for the fifth time on Thursday to discuss the constitution.