In a bid to keep their strategy on track, Zanu PF will have an urgent politburo meeting this coming Wednesday to take decisive steps on the constitution-making process, one of the single biggest stumbling blocks on Mugabe’s plans for elections later this year, with or without a new constitution.
Zanu PF, after several politburo meetings recently grappling with the issue, met on Wednesday and received a progress report on the constitution-making exercise from its co-chairman in Copac, Paul Mangwana, who had met with drafters on Tuesday over the revised draft. Senior politburo members say the party’s electoral plans were now in disarray partly because either Mangwana has “sold out” or was “just incompetent”.
Troubled by volatile issues sabotaging Mugabe’s election agenda, the politburo on Wednesday tasked party negotiators, Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa,to conclude within “48 hours” — which means up to today — negotiations over the “parked” constitutional issues thwarting their moves towards polls this year.
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed this to the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday.
“We want the constitution-making process concluded now,” he said.“The politburo is meeting on Wednesday (next week) to decide once and for all on the constitution. Chinamasa and Goche were given until Friday (today) to clear the parked issues, otherwise we will ask our team to present the report on the outreach meeting to the principals. We can come up with our own draft constitution based on the report on the outreach meetings.”
This is all being done with one overriding objective as Gumbo said: “Elections are this year – that is what we want.” Zanu PF is up in arms over the drafters and draft constitution, charging that the document contains issues not raised by the people. They claim the draft has “subversive material” and is designed to weaken Mugabe and the state, while embracing issues like dual citizenship, anIndependent Prosecuting Authority and powers of the Attorney-General, one vice-president and devolution.
The other issues in dispute include the structure of government, death penalty and whether the threshold of victory for a president should be 50%+1 or a simple majority.
Devolution in particular is proving to the most contentious issue. The Zanu PF politburo resolved on Wednesday not to move an inch on the issue, creating an explosive situation as the MDC-T, MDC-N, Zapu and civic groups are determined to fight Mugabe and his loyalists over the issue.
Mugabe told the politburo the issue of devolution was not negotiable, despite that six out of 10 provinces supported devolution, according to Copac.Sources said although some senior Zanu PF officials want devolution, Mugabe insisted Zimbabwe was a unitary state and would not accept decentralisation.
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed the politburo discussed devolution and resolved to oppose the issue, a move which would ensure the party is wiped out in some provinces during the next elections, especially in Manicaland and Matabeleland where devolution demands are strong.
“We discussed the issue and we were very clear in the politburo on devolution: We are a unitary state and we can’t have devolution,” Gumbo said in an interview yesterday.
However, some Zanu PF officials were furious over the issue. One senior official said Mugabe was now undermining the party’s election strategy by his rigid and emotional position on devolution.
“The issue of devolution debate has created problems in the party. Most senior officials in Zanu PF want devolution because as a public administration principle we have always supported it,” the official said. “If we raise emotions over this issue just before elections, we will be defeated heavily in provinces like Matabeleland North and South, Bulawayo, Manicaland, Midlands and even in Masvingo. Coming during a constitution-making process like this, the issue can bury us if we are not careful.”
JOCbrings together the army, police and intelligence service chiefs, and Zanu PF hardliners who were behind the brutal June presidential election run-off campaign. They are pushing for elections this year with or without a new constitution. JOC’s plans to arrest Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is also MDC-T leader, and his secretary-general TendaiBitiover allegations of corruption before the elections have also collapsed, leaving a trail of confusion in the party, struggling to put together a coherent polls strategy.
Prominent JOC big-guns arethose who are firmly behind Mugabe and who saved him from defeat in 2008. They includeDefence minister EmmersonMnangagwa, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuriamong others.
However, there is a certain group in Zanu PF, which includes party negotiators and MPs, which prefers elections be held next year under a new constitution as stipulated in the GPA and in the supplementary election roadmap done with the help of Sadc facilitator to Zimbabwe, South African President Jacob Zuma.
Mugabe and the hardliners, who prefer a scorched earth policy in the run-up to elections, have been on a war path against the GPA and Zuma. Even though it was agreed from the beginning that the GPA is the roadmap to elections, Mugabe has of late been trashing the agreement, claiming it was only meant to stop political violence, not to ensure reforms, including a new constitution, before elections.
Mugabe has also been on the warpath against Zuma, charging “we can reject Zuma in broad daylight. We have already told him that”. Zanu PF now even claims Zuma is a facilitator in his personal capacity when he is a Sadc point-man in his capacity as South African president just as Thabo Mbeki was. Zanu PF even now claims the GPA has expired and that elections must be held under the current constitution.
But Goche was recently quoted saying elections must come under a new constitution.Gumbo added: “The elections would be held immediately after a proposed referendum on the Copac draft constitution.”
There has been a series of politburo meetings grappling with whether Zanu PF should abandon the constitution-making process and call for early elections under the current constitution, but divisions and failure of tactics have thrown the party’s plans into disorder.