Constitution circus must end

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The drafting of the new constitution resumes next week after another needless disruption by elements that are not keen to see this country emerging from the political quagmire of the last decade.

These elements have thrived in the chaos precipitated by Zanu PF misgovernance, to the extent they are now scared to live in a normal society.

Zanu PF is comfortable with the heavily-patched Lancaster House Constitution because it has spent the last three decades abusing the Charter to suit its narrow interests.

War veterans, whom many blame for the country’s misfortunes that multiplied with the payment of unbudgeted bonuses to the ex-fighters in 1997, are now calling for the constitution-making exercise to be abandoned.

This week their leader Jabulani Sibanda called on President Robert Mugabe to dissolve Parliament because the drafting of the new charter had failed.

The war veterans claimed the drafters of the new constitution had betrayed the views of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“We, the war veterans of Zimbabwe, having read the preliminary reports of the Copac Drafting Committee, hereby express our shock, indignation and displeasure at the total disregard of and departure from what the people said they want in their constitution through the outreach programme,” reads the statement released by Sibanda.

His reaction was based on a contentious report on the constitution-making process leaked by the State media, but disowned by Copac.

The stance taken by war veterans and the usual suspects in Zanu PF, following this, did not come as a surprise to many as it has become clear since the on-again and off-again reform exercise began that some are very keen to derail the process.

But Zimbabweans are tired of this chicanery and this year must see progress in the reform agenda of the inclusive government whose mandate is fast coming to an end.

A new constitution is one of the major deliverables of the inclusive government and it’s high time all the parties that committed themselves to this transitional arrangement — Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC — started showing maturity and putting the national interest first. Zimbabwe cannot remain stuck in this mess forever.

The drafters, whom everyone agrees are people of integrity in their own right, must be allowed to do their work unhindered.

Those who are unhappy with the process would have the opportunity to register their displeasure when the constitution draft goes to the Second All-Stakeholders Conference and later Parliament for further scrutiny.

Zimbabweans will also be given an opportunity to reject or endorse the draft when the country holds a referendum, perhaps later this year.

Is it not curious that the same characters who disrupted the First All-Stakeholders Conference that was meant to kick start the constitution-making process, in July 1999 are the same people now declaring the exercise a failure before it even passes some of the most crucial phases?