Focus on new charter ignores other reforms in GPA

McDonald Lewanika

By Tererai Karimakwenda
21 January 2013

While the Constitution drafting team sets to work preparing the final draft of a new charter agreed to by the government principals last week, debate over what was agreed and what it means for the country’s elections has intensified.

As the political parties celebrate an agreement after three years of bickering, the other key reforms stipulated by the Global Political Agreement (GPA) have slowly faded into the background and elections have become the one thing government appears to be concerned with.

McDonald Lewanika, Director of the Crisis Coalition, told SW Radio Africa that other reforms stipulated by the GPA, that are essential to ensure a credible poll, have been sidelined and elections are now the focus. He explained that at least one important reform, the Constitution, has finally been completed.

“Of course the other reforms that are critical for us to hold free and fair elections have been sidelined as people focused on this long running episode of the Constitution making process, which I think is unfortunate. But from a political psychology point of view, the Constitution was the biggest prize,” Lewanika said.

He added: “I have to agree with those who say we need to hold on opening the champagne bottle, because the definitive process that is supposed to take place which is the referendum, we do not yet know when that will be. And we have no date for elections either.”

The deadlock had been caused by ZANU PF’s refusal to stick to the July, 2012 draft that their negotiators signed, insisting on many changes that they claimed represented the will of the people.

The MDC formations at first refused to make any more changes, saying they had already compromised enough. They even wrote to the SADC appointed mediator, President Jacob Zuma, calling on him to intervene.

At a press conference after the agreement last week, Robert Mugabe said: “We shall after the actual completion of the draft constitution, be making a proclamation as to the way forward and then we will stipulate our roadmap and state when the referendum will be held. And that will indicate also when our elections will be forthcoming.”

“We” meant the principals, and this has been strongly criticised by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), who are advocating for a NO vote on the new charter. NCA spokesman Madock Chivasa told SW Radio Africa that the exercise has been taken over by three people, after wasting lots of time and money.

“We have always been against this process saying that the politicians should not write the constitution. So what has happened now is they have finally handed it over to their principals who then finally agreed on the contents of the constitution,” Chivasa explained.

He added: “What it means is that we now have a Constitution that has been written by political leaders. The contents of the draft are based on what ZANU PF was demanding and what the three principals wanted. As the NCA we believe this is totally unacceptable after wasting so much time and money.”

In terms of a timeline, COPAC co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora, has said he expects the final drafting to be completed within a week or by the end of January at the latest. Presentation to parliament in February would be next, followed by a referendum in late March or early April.

But according to the state run Herald newspaper, the new agreement “means the President could immediately call for elections anytime after the new Constitution has been adopted.

The paper quotes Paul Mangwana, the ZANU PF co-chair in COPAC, as saying: “The forthcoming elections will have no timelines in the new Constitution because those elections are not going to be determined by the new law”.



4 Responsesto “Focus on new charter ignores other reforms in GPA”

  1. wilbert_mukori says:

    NCA’s Madock Chivasa is right Zimbabweans should not have to wait for anyone to tell them to vote NO to this Copac rubbish; it should be common sense.

    The right to free and fair elections and the right to life are not privileges be
    granted to some and denied to others as those in positions of power and
    authority on basis of a political whim or some selfish individual interest. Of all the rights and freedom these are the most screed and fundamental of all and
    with which it is nonsense to talk of peace, justice, prosperity.

    The right of every citizen to a meaningful say in the governance of the country
    exercised through free and fair elections is the only solid foundation on which
    good government can stand.

    Free and fair elections are the only guarantee the people have and will ever need of good government!

    The Copac draft Constitution this GNU has produced has nothing in it to guarantee the people’s right to free and fair elections and the right to life. (This is nothing in the discussions since the draft was produced in July 2012 to make me believe anything was done regarding these two rights in the final draft.)

    Zimbabweans must reject the lie that the right to free and fair elections and the right to life itself are privileges. We must reject the falsehood that even if have yet another bloody election process the nation can still muddle along and even prosper through MDC’s JUICE plan or Zanu PF’s 100% indigenisation programme. Unless the nation can hold these leaders to account, free and fair elections is the only universally accepted way of holding leaders to account, then there is nothing the people can do to ensure a pre-election plan, programme, promise, policy is honoured and implemented!

    The constitution is the mother of all the laws in the land. It will be folly for the people of Zimbabwe to accept the proposed Copac constitution when it does not guarantee the mother and father of rights – the right to free and fair elections and the right to life itself!

    • Chimbwido Warvet says:

      What a load of rubbish from the political commentator of Zimbabwe. Any constitution or laws enacted in the country is dependent of the caliber of its law makers. What we have in the House of Assembly is a load of hopeless Parliamentarians who can not debate convincingly and meaningfully. Until such time the House of Assembly of Zimbabwe has learned and educated Parliamentarians, our constitution and all other laws enacted in the country will remain shoddy or poor. The problem is not about the Copac constitution but our law makers who are not good enough, Wilbert.

    • Chimbwido Warvet says:

      I should qualify my statement below that the law makers I was referring to were those from the MDC camp who have proven are not good for purpose. The MDC commands a majority in the House of Assembly or Parliament and yet they have not been able to debate convincingly and meaningfully to bring about change they always talk about. Changes do not grow on trees but these are brought about by the law makers the majority of which are just sitting idly in that House of Parliament. They talk of electoral reform to make the elections free and fair and yet they can not effect these although they command a majority in Parliament. So who is fooling who here? The bottom line is that the MDC Parliamentarians are a bunch of idiots who are just earning the tax-payers’ money while doing nothing. They are always bulldozed by the clever foxes from the ZANU camp and always cry like babies due to their foolishness and stupidity.

  2. wilbert_mukori says:

    Madock Chivasa is right Zimbabweans should not have to wait for anyone to tell them to vote NO to this Copac rubbish.

    The right to free and fair elections and the right to life are not privileges be
    granted to some and denied to others as those in positions of power and
    authority on basis of a political whim or some selfish individual interest. Of
    all the rights and freedom these are the most screed and fundamental of all and
    with which it is nonsense to talk of peace, justice, prosperity.

    The right of every citizen to a meaningful say in the governance of the country
    exercised through free and fair elections is the only solid foundation on which
    good government can stand.

    Free and fair elections are the only guarantee the people have and will ever need of good government!

    The Copac draft Constitution this GNU has produced has nothing in it to guarantee the people’s right to free and fair elections and the right to life. (This is nothing in the discussions since the draft was produced in July 2012 to make me believe anything was done regarding these two rights in the final draft.)

    Zimbabweans must reject the lie that the right to free and fair elections and the right to life itself are privileges. We must reject the falsehood that even if have yet another bloody election process the nation can still muddle along and even
    prosper through MDC’s JUICE plan or Zanu PF’s 100% indigenisation programme. Unless the nation can hold these leaders to account, free and fair elections is the only universally accepted way of holding leaders to account, then there is nothing the people can do to ensure a pre-election plan, programme, promise, policy is honoured and implemented!

    The constitution is the mother of all the laws in the land. It will be folly for the people of Zimbabwe to accept the proposed Copac constitution when it does not guarantee the mother and father of rights – the right to free and fair elections and the right to life itself!

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