Rugged road towards new charter

HARARE - Zimbabwe's constitution-making process faced many hurdles along the way but trudged on.

The Daily News on Sunday relives some of the major milestones and problems the parliamentary committee commonly referred to as Copac faced along the way.

After the disruptions that marred the first All Stakeholders’ Conference in 2009, Copac began the process almost a year after being constituted.

Delays, according to the committee, was a result of lack of funding.

An outreach programme to gather people’s views started with bouts of violence and intimidation, signalling a tough road ahead.

There were 70 outreach teams in total, comprising 10 members each (four core members –one from each party, three rapporteurs, and four members from civic society) plus a technician to operate video and voice recorders.

In April 2010, 210 rapporteurs whose job was to capture people’s views at the public meetings were trained as the programme rolled on.

Technical teams were constituted to draft the talking points for the outreach programmes.

In a bid to silence citizens, Zanu PF launched Operation Chimumumu (Operation Dumbness) where citizens were instructed to remain silent and allow a selected few to contribute during Copac meetings.

According to Copac, at least a million Zimbabweans participated in its outreach programmes although coaching and intimidation were rampant through operations such as Chimumumu.

Public consultations, began on the June 23, 2010, often characterised by violence across the country with Zanu PF singled as the main culprit.

The violence led to the death of Chrispen Mandizvidza, an MDC supporter after being savagely assaulted at Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare, Harare on September 19, 2010, his party said.

Following the outreach meetings disturbances on September 18 and 19, 2010, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC announced that it had pulled out of the outreach process but officials from Zanu PF continued to convene the outreach meetings sending confusing statements.

After the deadlock had been broken, the constitutional reform process made significant progress with the management committee approving the outreach report submitted by Copac within 90 days after the outreach meetings.

Movement in the process came after the acrimonious Sadc Troika on Politics, Defence and Security summit held in Livingstone, Zambia on March 31, 2011 at which President Robert Mugabe was hugely humiliated by his peers.

The data uploading stage immediately followed, paving way for the next stage, which was the meeting of thematic committees.

Copac reported that it used its website to get the views of those outside the country and those who could not attend the outreach meetings and on March 15, 2011 said it had completed the uploading stage.

Also in 2011, Copac faced financial problems due to late resource disbursement by donors and government.
 
Copac, for example was allocated only $1 million in the 2011 budget for a process that reportedly required more than $10 million.

The arrest of one of the co-chairpersons Douglas Mwonzora in February 2011 affected the progress of the constitution-making process.

The MDC representative could not be involved in any decision-making during his incarceration
At times, protagonists of the process such as Zanu PF threatened to collapse the process.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said in 2011 that elections would be held in June 2011 with or without a new constitution.

“Our position is very clear, elections are going to be held next year before June whether the constitution-making process is complete or not,” he said then.

At the end of 2011, Copac began the drafting stage of the constitution-making process.

Once again, heckling took centre stage, this time over the choice of drafters.

Again, this was resolved after some probing from facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma.

In January 2012, the drafting stage continued with the first draft proposal completed in early February 2012.

The select committee reviewed the draft constitution with assistance from technical experts and adopted changes.

There were however, outstanding issues remaining, which included dual citizenship, compensation for expropriated land, devolution, role of the chiefs in the Senate, Independent Prosecuting Authority and structure of the executive.

In all this, the spectre of violence remained.

On January 14, 2012, war veterans disrupted a joint media and civil society briefing held at the Copac offices in Harare.

They, together with other Zanu PF members, went on to call for the firing of the three principal drafters accusing them of including clauses in the draft that were targeted at attacking Mugabe and the country’s moral, cultural and revolutionary pillars.

Zanu PF continued to indicate that elections would be held with or without a new constitution, in the process undermining its obligations.

Sometime in March the same year, Zanu PF reportedly tabled a 29-page document with over 225 demands that would, according to the other parties subvert the views of the people gathered during the constitutional outreach consultation phase.

Between April and June 2012, the process witnessed a slow pace owing to bickering and political parties’ interference but Sadc continued nudging.

A communiqué by Sadc’s committee of Heads of states extraordinary summit of the June 1, 2012 urged the GPA political parties to finalise the constitution-making process and subject it to a referendum thereafter,.

In May 2012, following the publication of the first draft constitution, Copac reviewed the contentious provisions.

The Copac select committee together with technical advisors completed the audit of the first draft constitution which revealed that the lead drafters had religiously followed instructions.

The Copac draft was finally completed on July 18 and endorsed by all party representatives to the GPA before Zanu PF’s politburo rejected the draft and its 225 demands had grown to 266 amendments.

The party’s highest decision-making organ expended some 60 hours “editing” the draft.

The two MDC formations took the opportunity of Sadc’s facilitation team to declare a deadlock in August.

On the other hand the two MDC formations endorsed the draft and declared they would campaign for a “Yes Vote.”

Mugabe and his party then went on to produce their own version of the draft constitution which was subsequently rejected by the other parties.

A Zanu PF activist Danny Masukuma took Copac to court demanding the release of the National Statistical Report.

The Second All Stakeholders Conference was then held from  October 21 to 23, 2012.

Zanu PF demanded that input from the plenary be included. This created fresh bickering leading to the formation of a cabinet committee.

The period under review also saw the creation of the “small committee” by the three Principals to the GPA to break the Copac deadlock, chaired by Constitutional Affairs minister, Eric Matinenga and included the Copac co-chairpersons and lead negotiators from the three political parties Patrick Chinamasa, Tendai Biti and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

The committee failed to break the deadlock, resulting in GPA principals hammering a deal.

QUOTABLE QUOTES

•  “God forbid! Did the Facilitator really believe that we in Zimbabwe should conduct our national politics in a way that would be acceptable to the entire world?
 
“Which entire world? Which country in Sadc conducts its national politics in that way?

It is such unacceptable sentiments, as captured under paragraph three of the Facilitator’s Livingstone Report which is now consigned to the archives, which dovetail with last week’s regime change call by US Ambassador Ray to change not just the roof of our government but also the foundation or roots of our governance as part of the Sadc election road-map which prove the current threat to our national security represented by Tsvangirai and his MDC.”

Political flip flopper Jonathan Moyo attacking Zuma for announcing during a Sadc Troika meeting in Livingstone Zambia that the regional bloc was establishing an election road map for Zimbabwe which included a new constitution in March 2011.

•  “We are not going to be side-lined from the process by people who are not even part of the negotiating team.

“We are trying to get Zimbabwe back to normal therefore we will not comment on anything outside the formal process.’’

Zuma’s international relations adviser Lindiwe Zulu on Moyo attacks.

• “Yes, I lost my temper, but Mangwana has been pushing me too hard against the wall. I told him . . . ‘I will beat you up!’ It took Olivia Muchena and others to restrain us.”

Zanu PF Copac member Edward Chindori Chininga in October 2011 after trading accusations with party Copac co-chair Paul Mangwana over the leaking of details to MDC negotiators.

•  “Anybody who thinks Copac will not produce anything good is crazy and right now Moyo is behaving worse than Lovemore Madhuku (NCA chairperson). However, we will not be distracted by hopeless people.”

Mangwana after being called a mafia by Moyo in April 2012.

• “Zuma used his much-awaited night visit to Harare ostensibly to review GPA progress ahead of Friday’s Sadc summit in Maputo to unilaterally install Welshman Ncube, who is also an in-law of his, as a GPA principal in a manner that shockingly violated Zimbabwe’s Constitution and sovereignty.”
 
Moyo following Zuma’s visit to Harare before the Maputo summit in August 2012

•  “Maputo, Maputo, Maputo. He (Zuma) came to Harare and unilaterally decided that Welshman Ncube is the MDC principal and that the MDC congress was valid and yet the matter is still pending before the Supreme Court which is the final legal authority.”

Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara after meeting with Zuma and being told he was not leader of the MDC in Harare before the Sadc summit in Maputo

• “We have no choice but to negotiate the constitution to fill in the gap of areas that were not questioned during the outreach exercise. The National Constitutional Assembly thinks there is a concept called people-written constitution. That is just a mobilisation cliché. It cannot happen anywhere in the world because people have no clue of what should be in the constitution.”

Welshman Ncube, July 2011

• “Mwonzora naMangwana wako maakuvhaira manje. Sometimes people fail to know where they draw their power from. Parliament thinks it is so sovereign to contradict the acts of principals. No! No! Parliament has limitations. Principals caused the process to happen,”

Mugabe at the Second All Stakeholoders meeting insisting principals and not Parliament had final authority on draft constitution in October 2012.

•  “I cannot sit down with Mugabe to discuss the constitution. No, it should go to Parliament not to Tsvangirai and Mugabe.”

Tsvangirai denying Mugabe’s statements that principals had final say in constitution-making process.

• “It is folly for anyone to deny that the involvement of the Principals in the constitution-making process which is essentially a political process. Any attempt to cast the role of the principals away at this stage will be an act of self-denial. Tsvangirai believes there should be executive consensus on the process otherwise the constitution-making process will collapse after such a huge political, emotional and national investment.”

William Bango, Tsvangirai spokesperson in December 2012.

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