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GNU parties diverge on constitution

THE three main political parties in the inclusive government have clashed over the new constitution with MDC-T now declaring that the outcome of the process would be a transitional document paving the way for free and fair elections next year, Zanu PF saying no to a negotiated charter, and MDC-M revealing that the final draft would be negotiated with the Kariba draft as the reference point.    

MDC-T made a summersault this week on proposals to have a negotiated constitution, saying it will now support the “flawed” outreach outcome as a transitional document paving the way for the 2011 elections.
Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that the MDC-T would rally behind the outreach process outcome as a way of respecting the people’s views which were expressed under choking conditions and come up with a “transitional constitution” before elections.
Chamisa said Zimbabweans would be given a chance to write another constitution after the elections when they are in power. 
President Robert Mugabe, who should proclaim election dates in consultation with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara, last week indicated that elections were likely by mid-next year.
Chamisa insisted that the outreach process was flawed although the content could not be ignored considering that Zimbabweans sacrificed to air their views under threats from Zanu PF.
He said: “We don’t want a negotiated constitution. The constitution-making process is not what it was supposed to be; it’s not legitimate because Mugabe frog-marched people to uphold Zanu PF views but we certainly cannot throw away what other Zimbabweans contributed under a difficult political environment.
“Zimbabweans will be given another chance to write a constitution in a free environment after elections. That’s why we want a transitional constitution now to create a conducive climate for elections, after which a new charter will be written.”
Tsvangirai last month hinted that a new governance charter could be negotiated in the same way the Lancaster House constitution was written, citing political violence and intimidation that marred the constitution-making process around the country.
However, Mugabe criticised Tsvangirai’s negotiated constitution proposal, saying the supreme law would be crafted on the basis of the people’s views.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told the Independent this week that Mugabe would not agree to a negotiated constitution, disregarding the views of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Charamba said: “They refused the Kariba draft and wanted a people-driven constitution and then we said it shall be that. When we have taken the trouble to order people on their views like that and these views are binding –– that is the essence of democracy. They (MDC-T) don’t have a choice. We will insist on the complete respect of the people.
“The constitution-making process has a management committee hence it doesn’t proceed on the goodwill of a political party. (NCA chairperson Lovemore) Madhuku can choose to withdraw but MDC cannot play God in a national process. It can not stop because of MDC-T.”    
MDC-M deputy secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga told a conference in Harare on Zimbabwe Transition in Comparative Perspectives this week that the outreach process was agreed to by politicians as a “way of managing the process” but they had an agreement that the Kariba draft was going to be the constitution.
“It’s now time for us to come out in the open,” she said adding that the parties would definitely go back to the negotiating table and Kariba would be the starting point for the negotiations.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga added that the ruling parties had agreed on the outreach process so as to manage the people.
The Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac), which is battling to come up with a new constitution on time, suspended outreach meetings in Harare and Chitungwiza due to a wave of violence blamed on Zanu PF and military and security agents.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara agreed under the global political agreement (GPA) to write a new constitution before fresh elections.
Tsvangirai told his supporters in Mabvuku on Tuesday that his party demanded a report from Copac and the management committee over the violent cases that disrupted gathering of views. He said Copac was supposed to redo areas that were marred by violence and intimidation.
His latest statement exposed Tsvangirai’s backtracking from his previous announcements declaring the party’s inclination was for a negotiated supreme law.
“Those who interfered with meetings should be arrested after which Copac must have a fresh visit in areas that were disturbed,” said the premier in Mabvuku.
MDC-T is now insisting that there should be no consultation meetings, even in Harare, until perpetrators of violence are arrested.
However, Charamba said there was no link between judicial processes and the constitution-making process.
“The Prime Minister at the last meeting of the National Security Council was shown images of his own people, including MPs, instigating violence –– ask him about it. These people were apprehended. However, there is no link between the judiciary and the constitution-making process. The constitution process will take momentum on its own life of the GPA,” he said.
Tsvangirai said it was poignant that Mugabe and cronies have instilled fear among Zimbabweans to stifle them from pushing for critical democratic reforms like the constitutional agenda.
“We are agreed with Mugabe for a constitution-making process then a referendum before the elections. But we don’t support an outreach process marred by violence,” he said.
MDC-T supporters in Mabvuku said they would not be allowed to vote because they were classified as aliens even though their forefathers lived in Zimbabwe more than a century ago. They argued that it was a ploy by Mugabe to weaken Tsvangirai’s stronghold in Harare and other urban centres.
Tsvangirai said aliens voted in 1980 and Zimbabwean citizens cannot be disenfranchised.
“We are going to tell ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) that the so-called aliens must have the right to vote. It’s unfair to disenfranchise people,” the premier added.

Brian Chitemba/Faith Zaba/Wongai Zhangazha

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