Zanu PF stalls constitution

HARARE - Zanu PF’s failure to agree on the draft constitution — the third in as many weeks — is likely to further delay completion of the process amid fears that the ex-majority party was seeking to undo the new governance charter.

This comes as the Constitutional Select Committee (Copac)’s management committee is due to meet on Monday to discuss possible dates for the referendum and the all-stakeholders conference, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary-general Tendai Biti said.

But Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday said they were “not in a hurry” to finish up their deliberations and this was after the party’s politburo — the highest decision-making body outside congress — failed to agree on a position on numerous issues, with the matter being deferred to next week Wednesday.

“We are not going to rush to endorse it (draft constitution) without thoroughly scrutinising the document… we want to support the constitution, which captures the aspirations of the people and protect the gains of the liberation struggle,” he said.

Gumbo said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube’s MDC’s – which have already endorsed the paper – did not understand the political implications of the paper.

“The MDCs just rushed to endorse it without knowing the political implications and (for us) we have to protect the gains of the liberation struggle,” he said.

Party insiders say heavyweights, including Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Joice Mujuru, and who are locked in a bitter war to succeed President Robert Mugabe, were uncomfortable with clause 5,5 (2) of the draft and which stipulates that presidential candidates will nominate two running mates.

In particular, Zanu PF hardliners are reportedly unhappy with plans to whittle down Mugabe or any presidential winner’s powers by suggesting that all decisions will be executed in consultation with cabinet.

Tsvangirai’s MDC, the smaller faction led by Ncube and Zanu PF have been leading Zimbabwe’s constitution making process through Copac.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC’s spokesperson, said delays by Zanu PF demonstrated deep divisions in the former liberation movement.

“Their failure… shows that Zanu PF wants to delay the writing process, so that we can go to elections without a new constitution. The delay also shows that their leaders are no longer in control of the party,” he said.

On Wednesday, Ncube also said his party would not accept any further re-adjustments and negotiations on the draft.

Mwonzora said Monday’s meeting of the management committee will discuss logistics and funding, despite Zanu PF’s dithering and reservations on the draft.
According to insiders, Copac needs a further $2 million to see through the referendum and other related events.

Apart from Zanu PF, Biti – who is also part of the management team – said the on-going population census and financial problems be-devilling the process might be additional factors to delay the constitution-making process.

“I can’t tell you when the referendum will be. The Copac management committee is meeting on Monday to debate the date of the referendum and the all-stakeholders conference. There are other factors… which might delay, but l can tell you that the referendum will be there this year,” he said.

In his weekly newsletter, the Zimbabwean number two man said although the current draft was not perfect, a new Constitution will “go a long way in laying the foundation for credible polls”.

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