THE Parliamentary Constitution Committee (Copac) outreach programme ends this month. As has been argued by the NCA, ZCTU and Zinasu it was characterised by political party dominance as opposed to a democratic pursuit of the people’s views.
But as is typically characteristic of our inclusive government, attempts will be made to force Zimbabweans to swallow a bitter but totally ineffective pill.
At the recent 11th anniversary commemoration of the formation of the MDC, party president Morgan Tsvangirai indicated that supporters should not worry about the outreach programme of Copac. Instead, he stated, all problems around the constitutional reform process would be addressed via a negotiated process — a statement that in effect confirmed the uselessness of the Copac process for all its pretence at being democratic and independent.
So once again, Zimbabweans shall be asked to compromise for the sake of “progress” as defined by Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M — the parties to the inclusive government. That millions of taxpayers’ money, both Zimbabwean and foreign, have been spent on an outreach programme that never achieved anything in particular is a fact that the political leaders would have us ignore. Instead, they ask of us a complete trust in their ability to pursue a democratic path behind the closed doors of Munhumutapa building.
Essentially, they are asking us to prepare for the second coming of the Kariba Draft constitution. It may not be named the “Kariba draft” again seeing as Copac will be trying to save face. However, the negotiations around it will be similar in character and import to those that led to drafting and appending of signatures to the Sadc mediator-endorsed Kariba draft.
Like the processes in 2007 that led to the meeting of parties on a boat in Kariba, the constitutional negotiations that the MDC president mentions will be done with elections in mind. The three political parties that comprise the inclusive government will negotiate with daggers drawn behind their backs because their primary target is the acquisition of power by pretence to being democratic. In other words they are turning our country’s political clock backwards as though they never had an inclusive government.
Naturally they will play the blame game on who is not functioning in the interests of the people or the “findings” of Copac. This is because they would want their particular party’s constitutional principles to be endorsed over and above those of their rivals. This will include the regular threat of campaigning for a “No”’ vote against the draft at the referendum. Even Zanu PF, for the first time in Zimbabwe’s history, will threaten to vote against a government document.
The truth of the matter is that none of the political parties in the inclusive government are going to campaign for a rejection of their own baby. They are simply going to negotiate again and again. If need be, they will declare deadlocks and take the issue up with the Sadc mediator, until they reach some sort of agreement on the form and nature of the executive. And then they will all campaign for what they would want to call an overwhelming acceptance of their negotiated draft.
What they however potentially miss out on is an understanding of the full political ramifications of their Kariba 2 draft constitution. A joint campaign for a “Yes” vote to the draft would be a perpetuation of their inclusive government and an expectation of the public to understand the same.
It will also mean that in the event of a general election, there should be the acceptance of the possibility of the formation of another inclusive government by way of electoral result, especially if the draft contains a proposed executive that includes a president and a prime minister.
Further, were such a general election to be held, the term of office of the resultant government would no longer be subject to the implied time frame of the GPA. Instead, it would have to last for the full five-year term, and therefore have an aura of permanence.
Secondly, because clauses on property rights, especially as regards land and minerals, will be controversial no matter how many compromises the MDCs may have arrived at, the joint campaign will be viewed unfavourably by the international community. This is because Zanu PF will present these property clauses as a finalisation of its Third Chimurenga, regardless of counter narratives of the MDCs. It will potentially mean a triumph of one party over the others and because of a joint “Yes” campaign, will have Sadc’s endorsement.
Thirdly, the confusion that will engulf greater components of civil society will serve to give the inclusive government immunity from direct or popular criticism. Arguments concerning the opportunities for a reformed Zimbabwe will be ubiquitous in so far as they relate to a continued availability of funding for pursuing a path palatable to those with the money to spend. This debate will attempt to hoodwink Zimbabweans into accepting false change on the basis of the fact that the endorsement of the process by the still popular MDC-T is beyond reproach.
So as it is, Zimbabweans must brace to be inundated with a Kariba 2 draft constitution with all the media and political spin that will come with it. It will most likely yield another inclusive government should it be the framework through which a general election is held. Except that such an inclusive government will be more permanent.
Takura Zhangazha can be contacted on email@example.com
By Takura Zhangazha