Zanu PF MP and Copac co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana has accused Finance minister Tendai Biti of trying to sabotage the constitution making process by literally throttling the project in his 2011 National Budget proposals.
Biti allocated $1 million towards the constitution but Mangwana described the vote as “a joke” that Copac was “not going to take”.
“He can keep his money. $1 million is not enough and I am not going to take it. I don’t know why he did that,” Mangwana fumed. “He should not have given us any money at all instead of insulting us. We will not accept that.”
Mangwana is the Zanu PF co-chairperson of Copac along with Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Edward Mkhosi (MDC-M).
“I don’t know where his priorities are,” said Mangwana. “He is one of the negotiators to the GPA but it seems he is sabotaging this project. We should not bank on donors to fund this project but it seems he doesn’t see the importance of writing the Constitution.”
Zanu PF is determined to have the constitution-making process completed and a referendum conducted before mid next year, the time Mangwana’s party leader President Robert Mugabe says he wants elections held.
“I will present a speech in Parliament and definitely will oppose this insult by Biti,” Mangwana said. “I don’t even want to see it (the $1 million). We need $20 million but we get only $1 million. What does that mean?”
Mangwana said the MPs who were involved in the Copac exercise were yet to be paid and hoteliers also wanted their money.
“We need $5,9 million to pay for bills and close to $6,2 million to pay for the next phase of the constitution but we only get $1 million,” he said.
“MPs and hotels have not been paid. We need to finish this process and we should do so by April next year.”
Efforts to get minister Biti to comment on allegations that his budget sought to sabotage the constitution were fruitless.
Meanwhile, Mwonzora said Copac had taken a decision to “spike” all data the committee deemed unconstructive to the constitution, especially those contributions that were guided by emotions rather than common sense.
He said statements like the threats on the lives of journalists who allegedly wrote stories deemed to denigrate the Head of State and proposals to hand the death penalty on people accused of advocating for sanctions were made under abnormal circumstances and therefore would not be taken seriously.
“We cannot take submissions that were made under violent circumstances like what happened at St John’s Retreat. We cannot consider such submissions tendered in the heat of the moment as the will of the people,” he said.
“We agreed in principle that the constitution should make Zimbabwe better. It mustn’t take Zimbabwe backwards and those statements will be dismissed with the contempt they deserve,” he said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Development Programme this week donated a server and vehicles worth $270 000 to Copac to finalise the process.