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Referendum: Zanu PF holds the aces

Zanu PF’s position on the constitution-making process and shifting political sands on which the MDC formations find themselves make any prediction of the referendum outcome uncertain.

While the initial understanding between the three parties in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) was that they would work together to ensure the draft is adopted, the reality may be different.

The draft constitution could be stopped at various levels, including the drafting and negotiation, referendum and parliament stages.
Although the inclusive government is hobbling on, the constitution-making process has exposed its sharp differences, jeopardising chances for free and fair elections.

Zanu PF is now geared to reject the draft unless it fits its political designs. Although the clauses on term and age limits have been abandoned after furious protests by Zanu PF, the atmosphere is already poisoned.

The other problem is Zanu PF is sulking over several issues in the current draft, including the structure of government which may include a weakened president and prime minister, a stronger parliament, dual citizenship, stronger social rights including those of gay rights and devolution, among other issues.

This may lead to the blocking of the draft, something which fits perfectly well into Mugabe and Zanu PF’s current political strategy for elections to have polls this year under the flawed Lancaster House constitution amended 19 times.

In a recent with ZBC, Mugabe also warned he would reject clauses he does not want. This approach is what galvanised civil society into action like in 2000.

Given that Zanu PF has said it would campaign for a No vote if its demands are not met, the situation dovetails into civil society’s position, putting pressure on the MDC formations to compromise if the draft is to survive.

After rejecting the Kariba draft, which was reached through consensus and ignoring warnings from different quarters, including the media, that the current constitution-making process was tricky, the MDC-T now finds itself in a dilemma: Damned if it supports the bad Copac draft; damned it doesn’t.
Among civil society organisations likely to go to bed by default with Zanu PF — motivated by entirely different agendas — are the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union and the Zimbabwe National Students Union, traditional MDC-T allies.

In interview last week, NCA chairman and law professor Lovemore Madhuku said lthe Copac draft’s fate would be sealed at the referendum.
But civil society is divided, making the situation more interesting. Crisis Coalition spokesperson Thabani Nyoni said: “We adjusted our expectations. If we support this process we would see an improved document compared to Lancaster and thus an incremental approach.”

Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said: “If it is done properly and the coalition produces a draft jointly, I don’t see how it can be rejected. The 2000 draft was rejected not because it was a bad document but because of the MDC positions then.”

However, Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo, who is the party’s strategist, was sceptical the draft would even survive up to the referendum stage. “I don’t know whether there will be a referendum or whether the parties would agree to the draft. If they do, then we will judge the document. We can only cross the bridge when we come to it,” he said.

This leaves the fate of the Copac draft and the issue of elections up in the air.

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