THE recent Zanu PF climbdown on the constitution-making process is not surprising as it was expected by those who understood that factionalism and the resultant turmoil in the party have made it difficult for the party to be coherent and cohesive in its engagement on the issue.
Report by Qhubani Moyo
It is known to all, including Zanu PF people, that the outcome of the constitution-making process is not what all Zimbabweans are particularly happy with. It was never going to be possible to craft a document that appeals to all individuals and group interests, yet it was necessary to produce a document that will capture the collective interests of all Zimbabweans.
It is thus obstreperous for Zanu PF to now try to cause a debate on the national report at the all-stakeholders’ conference as the basis of discussion when they know that at all levels the draft constitution had to be changed several times to accommodate their unending demands which were largely a result of their internal contradictions and fractures.
It is important for Zanu PF to understand the function of the all-stakeholders’ conference. Its purpose is to discuss the draft constitution and not go back to the national report, a move which may result in the revisiting of the whole process right back to the outreach programme.
At the rate we are going, it won’t be surprising to hear demands for videos of proceedings of some outreach meetings under trees all over the country. The trouble is that Zanu PF factions are using the constitution-making process to try to outmanoeuvre each other, hence their endless demands for changes. If one faction is not happy, it will seek to secure revisions and this has been going on for months now.
That is why it is now important to push the process forward to the all-stakeholders’ conference and then referendum. Zanu PF has a responsibility to work with others as it is clear this process is based on compromise and consensus.
The national report issue is now inconsequential because it was compromised by them in the first place. Besides, anyone with basic understanding of research methodology will know that the Copac process by any standards can never qualify to be called a quantitative or a qualitative research process.
It was never even a triangulation because there was no structured formula for mixing the research approaches. The instrument that was used for the enquiry, with due respect, was neither a questionnaire nor an interview schedule. It had what were called talking points that were never designed methodologically to meet any of the simplest tenets of research methodology.
The process of enquiry itself which some ignoramuses want to argue was a focus group approach was never anywhere near that. It is important for the public to know that if you intend to use a particular research methodology, you should from the very beginning design your sample and instruments to meet the frame of that method. You don’t just gather people without a formula and then decide they are a focus group and start saying that frequencies on a subject matter represent a quantitative result. This can only be done by a party with leaders who believe diesel can ooze out of rocks!
The only justifiable quantitative scrutiny of the draft constitution will be a referendum because it is by its nature quantitative. If Zanu PF wants a quantitative approach to analysis of the draft constitution then it must go to the referendum.
What is desirable now is for the people of this country to go through the draft so that they get an understanding of what is contained in it. If the citizens of this country get an uninterrupted opportunity to scrutinise the draft, they will be able to identify the good, the bad and the ugly in the document and make informed decisions at the referendum.
But what are the fears which Zanu PF has that have caused them to work tirelessly to try and suffocate the document which they partially produced?
First, it was always never in the interest of Zanu PF hardliners to embrace any sort of reform, including constitutional review, and that ’s why they were dragged screaming and kicking into the constitution-making process.
Zanu PF leaders, especially hardliners, are dead scared of a new constitution as it might result in their heavy defeat and the only way to ensure self-preservation is to resist the process to ensure the country goes to elections under the current constitution and environment in which they can repeat the brutality of June 2008 and ballot theft.
It is those in Zanu PF who want to preserve the current dictatorship and scorched-earth policy approach towards elections by blocking a new constitution through frivolous and vexatious amendments which have no enlightenment value as they are simply designed to restore the despotic status quo.
The reason why Zanu PF reactionaries and intransigents are angry about the Copac draft constitution is not so much its flaws, which admittedly are there, but the new power structure and checks and balances it introduces. The tragedy of Zanu PF amendments is that they are just designed to defend the imperial powers of an individual and his party at the expense of the nation.
The Copac draft provides a healthy balance in the exercise of executive power between the president, cabinet and other state institutions. It further provides for clearly defined separation of powers. The era of imperial presidents with all the powers is over. The draft provides a workable framework for redefining our social relations and new governance architecture for the country.
The draft, in line with other progressive constitutions, provides a balanced executive presidency, term limits, smooth succession, a beefed up Bill of Rights, devolution, women’s rights, important commissions, new institutions, structures for good governance, accountability and transparency and protection of Zimbabwe’s languages, among other things. It offers a new beginning. That’s why Zanu PF doesn’t want it!
The all-stakeholders’ conference must debate this draft rather than engage in reactionary quarrels about past issues.
l Moyo is the director of policy and research co-ordination in the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube. He is contactable on: firstname.lastname@example.org