SADC facilitator to the Zimbabwe crisis, South African President Jacob Zuma, says it has been suggested an alternative way of resolving the current impasse on the draft constitution is to test both the Copac draft and Zanu PF document in a referendum.
Report by Wongai Zhangazha
In his report to the troika meeting of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in Maputo, Mozambique last week, Zuma said it was impossible to “prescribe” how to resolve parties’ differences over the draft.
“MDC-T and MDC-N are of the view that the only way forward, if there are substantial issues for renegotiation on the part of Zanu PF, is that the current draft be put to a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’ referendum, or that the current draft and a Zanu PF draft be put to a referendum,” Zuma says in his report.
“Alternatively the referendum includes not only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on the constitution as a whole but also a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on each of the clauses of the constitution with regards to which Zanu PF has an alternative formulation.”
The MDC formations, he said, favoured this route as the only way which would allow for the voice of the people to be heard on matters on which the parties differ even at this late stage of the process.
Zuma said the MDCs felt the draft constitution is complete and ready to go through parliament and a second stakeholders’ conference before being put to a referendum.
“However, they (MDC parties) maintain that having been agreed to by the senior negotiators who have acted on the basis of regular consultations with and mandating by their principals, these two outstanding processes should not cause any significant changes to the draft,” says Zuma.
“They have expressed concern that they have received intimations that Zanu PF may want amendments which is not yet formally communicated. They are concerned that any such revision of any specific aspect of the constitution would open the door to every aspect of the current draft constitution to be revisited. This they say would be tremendous setback and could lead to the process having to start from square one.”
Zuma’s report indicates the MDC-T leadership had compromised on many issues in the draft constitution although they were unhappy with it.They said since this is the result of a negotiated process, it involved concessions by all parties and decided to put their reservations aside to support the draft in its present form “because it served the interests of the people”.
Zanu PF had strong reservations about certain aspects of the draft, Zuma noted.
“Zanu PF is of the view that the current version of the draft constitution is still subject to negotiations at the level of principals guided by their respective parties. They reject the view that the current version cannot be subjected to any changes and therefore maintain that it would be wrong to take the current draft as it stands to a referendum,” Zuma says.
“They also maintain that the present draft can also be amended when it goes back to parliament and to the stakeholders conference. It is only then, they insist that there will be a version of a negotiated constitution that is ready to be put to a referendum.”
Political analyst and National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku said it was legal for more than one draft to be tested in a referendum and he urged President Robert Mugabe to allow drafts from other stakeholders.
“Anything is possible under the Referendums Act,” said Madhuku. “It is possible for the president to put forward many questions for approval or rejection by the voters, not just one. So we can have the Zanu draft and the Copac draft, but in that case other stakeholders should also be allowed to put forward their own drafts.”
Meanwhile, Zuma also raised the MDC formations’ concerns about the involvement of soldiers in the on-going census process.
The parties appealed for Sadc to send monitors and observers to participate in the census process.
Zuma revealed during his visit to Zimbabwe last week, he was advised all parties in the inclusive government were unable to give much attention to the implementation of all the issues that their negotiators had already agreed on while principals were unable to meet to iron out matters referred to them.
The implementation mechanism has not yet been set up as recommended by the previous Sadc troika meeting.
Zuma told the troika that the three parties agreed that once the constitution-making process was complete, an elections road map with clear timelines would be put in place.
The MDC formations believe that there had been remarkable progress in the work of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic), which includes the establishment of provincial offices.
However, Zanu PF believes Jomic has been functioning with some major challenges.
“Zanu PF believes that there is need to clarify the terms of reference and modalities of how the troika members’ nominees work together with the facilitation team and how they will interface with Jomic.”