WHILE Zanu PF is forcefully pushing for the Copac national statistical report to be tabled at the forthcoming Second All-Stakeholders Conference, an analysis of the report in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent shows the party could be shooting itself in the foot as some of the issues in it as raised by people during the outreach programme go against the party’s 266 proposed amendments to the controversial draft constitution.
Report by Wongai Zhangazha
Zanu PF initially indicated it agreed to 97% of provisions in the draft constitution before party hardliners – who accused Copac officials and negotiators in the management committee of selling out – forced wholesale amendments during recent day and night meetings which lasted for about 50 hours.
Retention of imperial powers
The amendments, seen as an attempt by Zanu PF to restore President Robert Mugabe’s overbearing powers ahead of elections to maintain his unfair political advantages over his rivals, are simply about restoring an authoritarian executive which dominates other arms of government, parliament and the judiciary without adequate separation of powers and checks and balances.
The Copac draft constitution clips presidential powers by distributing some of the executive powers to cabinet and parliament. The imperial powers enjoyed by Mugabe as enshrined in the current constitution are cited as the major reason why the 88-year old ruler has managed to cling to power for 32 years without a break.
Devolution of power
Zanu PF amendments also expunge devolution entirely from the draft by deleting all references to dispersal of executive authority, delete presidential running mate provisions and replace them with the current system, adding a new provision that in the event of the office of president becoming vacant, the replacement would be chosen by the party to which the president belongs.
Zanu PF hawks further tore up the Copac draft to retain the president’s power to appoint two vice-presidents as provided in the current constitution, among other powers of appointment.
What Zanu PF seems to be conveniently ignoring is that some views expressed by civil society, churches, business associations and Zimbabweans in the diaspora were also ignored in the new draft. In fact, so many other compromises were made, including the removal of clauses of term and age limits which seemed aimed at preventing President Robert Mugabe from seeking re-election next year.
Contrary to Zanu PF’s claims that Zimbabweans did not call for a devolved state during the outreach programme, the national thematic summary analysis and the national narrative reports of the outreach process show Zimbabweans prefer devolution and not decentralisation as proposed in the party’s unilateral amendments.
Multiple farm ownership
The reports also shows Zimbabweans spoke out against multiple farm ownership, an issue that the current draft does not address. It only proposes a Land Commission that will carry out a land audit, but Zanu PF has also removed this clause from its amended draft.
A land audit is one of the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) but Zanu PF continues to resist the matter amid indications many party bigwigs –– including top leaders –– and their cohorts own multiple farms which are not being fully utilised.
A careful analysis of the lands national narrative report shows Zimbabweans strongly demanded equitable distribution of land, a land audit and a “one-man-one-farm policy” in addition to productive use of the land and an end to multiple farm ownership, as well as payment of compensation for farms taken over by the state.
None of these issues are captured in the current draft.
Although not nationally representative, the statistical report shows that in 29 wards visited in Bulawayo 65,2% of participants said they wanted Zimbabwe to have equal distribution of land while about 86,21% of participants demanded a land audit. Another 79,3% of participants were against multiple farm ownership.
In Manicaland 74,62% of participants in the 260 wards visited said they preferred a land audit while 56,92% were for the one-man-one-farm policy. In Mashonaland Central, one of the strongest support bases for Zanu PF, about 58,19% of participants in the 232 wards visited said “no” to multipl e farm ownership.
Another 71,49% of participants from 228 wards visited in Mashonaland East expressed the same view. The trend spreads across other provinces including Masvingo where more than half of the participants were against multiple ownership of land and 80% supported a comprehensive land audit. These statistics are damning for Zanu PF which has made spirited efforts to block a land audit as provided for in the GPA.
Reports say many senior Zanu PF officials, including President Robert Mugabe’s family, are multiple farm owners. This is consistent with the pattern of Zanu PF’s land reform programme which mainly rewarded powerful politicians, ministers, senior government officials and top civil servants, as well as influential military officers.
Zanu PF’s constitutional proposals are at variance with the people’s views on the issue of presidential powers. In its amendment proposals Zanu PF seeks to restore an all-powerful president above cabinet and parliament, in spite of the fact that Zimbabweans overwhelmingly called for sufficiently limited presidential powers.
The Copac draft also proposes a number of commissions, as preferred by Zimbabweans in the outreach, to deal with executive organs of the state including independent commissions for the defense ministry, police, prisons, air force, prosecutions and intelligence services.
In the past these organs have operated without any oversight institutions, resulting in some of them used for partisanship agendas mainly by the powerful in Zanu PF.
Although Zanu PF has kept some of these commissions, it deleted provision for a truth and justice commission, showing its fear for accountability for human rights abuses and past excesses.
Zanu PF is also clamouring for a clause that criminalises homosexuality. While a majority of Zimbabweans (56,2%) wanted homosexuality to be outlawed, only 1,95% wanted it criminalised.
The glaring inconsistencies over Zanu PF’s version of “people’s views” raises questions over how at the stakeholders conference will the party justify arbitrarily amending the Copac draft to include some of the omitted people’s views, while ignoring those which do not help its agenda of restoring the imperial presidency ahead of crucial elections next year.