By Violet Gonda
14 March 2013
Zimbabwe may be heading for a second government of national unity, Minister of Constitutional Affairs Eric Matinenga revealed Thursday.
He was speaking during a wide ranging panel discussion on the constitutional referendum on the Hot Seat programme with National Constitution Assembly chairman Dr. Lovemore Madhuku and Ozias Tungawara, Director of the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project.
Matinenga said the current Lancaster constitution, with amendment no. 19 that created the inclusive government, will continue in the event the new charter is rejected.
“From my assessment we may be heading for another GNU… If one has to look at our particular environment and what we can and cannot do then that has to be looked to in a serious manner,” Matinenga said.
He said he is confident that the majority of people will vote yes for the new constitution.
Tungwarara said there is a misplaced perception that a Yes vote for the draft constitution will deliver a credible election. He believes this will not happen for a number of reasons, including the fact that there are few fundamental reforms, which were supposed to work in tandem with the constitution making process, under the Global Political Agreement.
“So the political environment that is hostile to democratic engagement still exists.” The analyst said there won’t be sufficient time to undertake the necessary reforms before the general and presidential elections due in the next six months.
“So the points that he (Matinenga) raises about the judiciary members being publicly interviewed and that if there are disputes you will have impartial people presiding – this will not happen. So we are likely to have again a contaminated electoral process which the constitution will not impact on, and where that is going to leave us is anybody’s guess. It could be another 2008.” Tungwarara said.
Madhuku, whose NCA has been consistently campaigning for a No vote at the referendum, said it is obvious that the three political parties in the inclusive government are actually working on having a second inclusive government.
“The GNU is quite evident when you get all the political parties campaigning for a Yes vote at the referendum and when all three political parties are agreeing that the time given for the people is completely irrelevant even though people wanted more time. They have not even complained about all the (negative) things that have been happening.
“So which ever party wins the elections, I think, would want to stay, in the name of stabilisation, which is why there is that clause that says in the next ten years we will not have a presidential by-election in the event of the death of the president.
The NCA chairman believes none of the political parties can win an outright majority vote in the forthcoming polls.
You can listen to the full referendum debate on the Hot Seat programme, where the panellist also discuss some of the contentious issues in the draft constitution: Listen here to Hotseat