AS the ruling Zanu PF and other political players work on a new constitution to resolve Zimbabwe’s crisis, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) says that is the only feasible way out of
the political impasse.
NCA chair Lovemore Madhuku yesterday said political parties and other interest groups must urgently meet to consider a constitutional route to deliver the country from the present political stalemate.
Madhuku said a new constitution could resolve the crisis because it would introduce fundamental reforms while settling contested political issues.
He said it would allow President Robert Mugabe to leave office with dignity, address the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)’s call for new elections and usher in a democratic dispensation.
“This is the only way out of this situation because it will give Mugabe a safe exit and afford the MDC a chance to contest the election on an even playing field,” Madhuku said. “The constitutional avenue could provide a solution to our problems.”
Madhuku said the way forward was to come up with a stakeholders’ technical com-mittee to study the rejected governme-nt-sponsored Const-itutional Commiss-ion’s and the NCA’s draft constitutions to produce a “consensus document that will be subjected to public debate before being adopted by a stakeholders’ conference”.
A referendum could be held, if necessary, to endorse the new constitution.
“This may or may not need a transitional government,” Madhuku said.
“What is needed are organised structures to ensure that the process is democratic and the outcome reflects the popular will.”
However, sources said current efforts by Zanu PF and other players to come up with a new constitution faced serious hurdles.
They said an array of transitional issues that must be dealt with during this process stand in the way of a new constitution.
The major stumbling block is Mugabe’s immunity from prosecution for human rights abuses. Issues of truth, reconciliation, justice, amnesty and healing are also hindrances.
Other obstacles to this constitutional formula are growing calls for Mugabe’s regime to be held to account for corruption and the stripping of state assets.
If a deal was to be struck with Zanu PF, the MDC would want a transitional executive authority (TEA) to manage the interim period before fresh elections were held, sources said.
TEA would also have a mandate to make state assets registers and audits, control the distribution of state resources, expenditures, and ultimately arrange fresh elections.
These issues would have to be articulated and contained in a founding document of the negotiated settlement that must be binding and irreversible.
But Zanu PF, which plans to introduce the constitutional issue when talks with the MDC resume, wants constitutional reform to deal with Mugabe’s immunity and asset-stripping now so that its leaders are protected after power.
The MDC however, wants an interim constitution that would address issues relating to electoral law reforms before a final constitution is agreed.