Controversy stalks new constitution

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Controversy reigns supreme in the drafting of the new constitution of the country.

Yesterday, the three Copac co-chairmen, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Zanu PF), Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Edward Mkhosi (MDC), issued conflicting statements on the constitution-drafting process so far.

Mangwana said the work done on chapters one to four of the new charter showed they were drafted without total instructions from Copac.

“The drafters used some of the instructions from Copac, but they also decided to fill in other gaps with constitutions from other countries,” Mangwana said.

“We have said drafting should stop until we have completed writing an instruction manual signed by all political parties that the drafters would adhere to when writing the new constitution.”

But the other Copac co-chairmen Mkhosi and Mwonzora vowed drafting would go on despite the controversies and alleged Zanu PF was trying to derail the constitution-making process.

Said Mkhosi: “The guidelines that the drafters are using come from what was agreed by the three political parties in Copac, not issues of their own making. We cannot give them raw material from the national report because it is not yet complete and has not included views on what people in the Diaspora, the disabled and other institutions said, and that national report only shows the number of times an issue was raised, but that does not necessarily mean those issues were supported by the majority.”

Mwonzora concurred: “There is also nothing wrong with them looking at constitutions of other countries because it is the practice the world over. They are also looking at other drafts like the Kariba draft, the National Constitutional Assembly draft, the Law Society draft and even the rejected Constitutional Commission draft. That is normal.”

Botswana High Court judge Justice Moses Chinhengo, lawyers Priscilla Madzonga and Brian Grozier are the three drafters. Their critics allege they are drifting away from what “the people” said during the outreach process and drafting according to constitutions of other countries.

Last month, a national report which was disputed by the two MDCs was published in the State media. Mkhosi queried war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda’s sudden interest in the draft and said he was not a member of Copac and neither did he take part during the outreach programmes.

Sibanda yesterday issued a statement in the State media questioning contents of the first four chapters of the draft constitution.

Political analyst Jonathan Kadzura also told NewsDay the draft constitution was flawed as chapters one to four did not include anything the people of Zimbabwe said during the outreach process.

“From chapters one to four, there is not even one thing that was said by the people of Zimbabwe,” he claimed.

“The drafters picked up things from foreign constitutions which makes us wonder how it can be people-driven.”