HomeLettersTsvangirai backs Mugabe on constitution

Council, councillors an incompetent lot

The two MDC formations are anxious to hold elections under a new constitution — something which Zanu PF is now trying to resist although it initially agreed when the GPA was signed in 2008.

Mugabe, who desperately wants early elections when he is still fit to campaign, has threatened to call for elections this year under the Lancaster House constitution, with or without a new constitution, if the chaotic constitution-making process drags on. Zanu PF factions are engaged in fierce succession battles at Copac, the constitution-making process.

Interviewed by the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe cannot abandon the constitution-making process because of a few contentious issues, which are resolvable. He appeared to agree with Mugabe, fuelling reports that he was now in agreement with him on elections this year. There were reports which were not denied recently that Sadc negotiator, South African President Jacob Zuma had to intervene to stop Tsvangirai and Mugabe cutting a deal on elections. Tsvangirai has previously said he had secured an agreement with Mugabe that whoever loses elections would not contest the outcome.

“We are supposed to receive the draft constitution and consider how to finalise it,” he said. “We are waiting for the management committee to submit the draft. What the president is saying is that we can’t wait until everything is concluded.”

Mugabe gave the management committee — made up of the three negotiating teams and technical experts — up to this week to conclude the process and hand over the final draft to the three party principals. They are, however, still deadlocked on three issues.

The team of negotiators — Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa from Zanu PF, Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma from MDC-T and  Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses Mzila-Ndlovu  of MDC-N — failed to agree on the structure of government, devolution of power and dual citizenship. Zanu PF resolved last month at its politburo meeting not to move an inch especially on devolution. The MDC formations have also vowed not to compromise.

Tsvangirai said: “It is better that they give us the draft so that we consider it. I am sure that we will find an agreement on the parked issues. If they are reduced to a minimum, I am sure we should be in a position of finding some sort of accommodation. We can’t throw out the whole document on the basis of one or two disputes, so I think we will be able to finalise it.”

However, based on past experience when contentious issues are referred to the principals, Mugabe always seems to end up having his way or ensuring the negotiations are stalled. At principal level, Tsvangirai has previously failed to secure the swearing-in of Roy Bennett as Agriculture deputy minister, influence of the renewal of service chiefs’ tenures, and the appointment of governors, judges and ambassadors, among other issues. A number of GPA issues remain in deadlock or unimplemented in the case of those already agreed upon.

In August 2010, Sadc leaders gave the coalition government partners a 30-day ultimatum to implement the GPA, but to date none of the agreed issues have been implemented.

Agreed items include the implementation of the land audit and security of tenure, appointment of provincial governors, appointment of the board of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and the Mass Media Trust, the eradication of hate speech, consensus on the awarding of national hero status and issues of external interference, among others.

The principals had agreed at the time that the only three outstanding issues which remained were the appointment of Bennett and the unilateral appointments of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, and they were going to be resolved in a month’s time.

However, Mugabe made a U-turn and refused to appoint governors from the MDC formations resulting in Tsvangirai taking the matter to court in November 2010. Mugabe has also refused to swear in Bennett and in a sign showing that the MDC-T had given up on the matter, the party appointed Seiso Moyo in Bennett’s place.

In his speech to mark 32 years of Independence, Mugabe once again called for the speedy completion of the constitution-making process to pave the way for general elections, piling pressure on Tsvangirai and others on what to do on early elections.

“Finalisation of the constitution-making process needs to be hastened,” Mugabe said. “The principals in the Global Political Agreement will be examining the draft constitution so it can soon be put before the people in a referendum marking the beginning of a definite process towards general elections this year.”

Copac officials who spoke to the Independent believe without Zuma’s intervention, the principals were unable to resolve the “parked issues”. A member of the management committee said: “Taking the stalemate to the principals to try and bridge their differences will not solve anything because as a management committee we represent those principals, we speak on their behalf and what we say is exactly what they will say so it is better this issue be referred to the facilitator.”

MDC-T co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora said the drafters have completed their task but have failed to agree on the “parked” issues. He said it was now up to the principals to resolve the deadlock.

“I can say the draft constitution is ready from the Copac point of view but the outstanding issues namely devolution, and dual citizenship remain a bone of contention from the Zanu PF representatives,” he said.

MDC-N co-chairperson Edward Mkhosi was doubtful the draft would be released this week. “Our drafters have completed their duty as we speak but the management committee is not agreeing on the previously parked issues. It seems there are some disagreements within Zanu PF which makes the whole issue complicated, especially on the devolution of power and the Citizenship Act,” said Mkhosi.

“Our position, as MDC-N, is that all these issues are resolvable but the problem we are currently having is that political parties, Zanu PF to be precise, are politicising these issues, hence they have remained parked.”

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