‘Zanu PF against new constitution’

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The call by war veterans for the Constitution Select Committee (Copac) to abandon the drafting of the new charter is another indication Zanu PF is not comfortable with serious reforms before elections, analysts have said.

President Robert Mugabe is insisting on fresh polls despite fears the new constitution would not be ready.

The experts drafting the new charter – Botswana High Court judge Moses Chinhengo, University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Brian Crozier and prominent lawyer Priscilla Madzonga – are expected to resume work this week after another disruption.

Zanu PF members in the constitution-drafting technical team, Godwills Masimirembwa and Jacob Mudenda, caused a storm last month after they claimed the drafters were not doing their work properly.

This was followed by the leaking of the first four chapters of the draft constitution by State-owned media.

Jabulani Sibanda, the war veterans’ leader, last week used the leaked draft to call for an end to the constitution-making process claiming people’s views had been distorted.

Sibanda claims some of the views that had been distorted included those on homosexuality, property rights, war veterans, citizenship and the death penalty.

Zanu PF-aligned political analyst Jonathan Kadzura claimed there were many flaws in the draft, with one of them being the alleged sidelining of local languages in favour of English as the language of record.

“I do not see why Shona should even be superior to Kalanga or other languages,” he told NewsDay.

“Languages are equal and, therefore, it becomes unfair for a constitution not to protect people’s languages.
“It means it does not protect people’s culture.”

He said the draft constitution also sought to downplay the significance of war veterans.

But other analysts said Zanu PF was never interested in a new constitution and could be causing the disturbances to destroy prospects of a free and fair election.

“It is not surprising that people like Sibanda are now saying we should go for elections without a new constitution because from the outset, it was clear that Zanu PF was not interested in the new constitution,” said Harare-based analyst Blessing Vava.

“Zanu PF did everything possible to frustrate the constitution-making process using violence, intimidation and at times tampering with the views collected during the outreach process.”

He said the former sole ruling party, which led a failed constitution-making exercise in 2000, was not comfortable with reforms that would harm its electoral chances.

“They know that any reforms will lead to a free and fair election, which they are scared of given their well-documented history of rigging elections and using the flawed Lancaster House Constitution in their favour,” Vava said.

He said Zanu PF’s strategy would be to disrupt the constitution-making process until President Mugabe carries out his threats to unilaterally end the lifespan of the inclusive government.

Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo, a Kwekwe-based analyst, said the constitution-making process had become a victim of electioneering politicians.

“The challenge we face in the constitution-making process is that politicians are fighting for their own survival and interests,” he said.

“It is unwise for Sibanda to advise President Mugabe to dissolve Parliament and call for elections without a new constitution, especially since it is one of the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).”

According to the GPA, a new constitution and a raft of security as well as electoral reforms are necessary before a fresh poll could be held in Zimbabwe.

Moyo said the Zanu PF activists were not being sincere in claiming that they were defending the wishes of the people.

“Zanu PF should only come out clean and say openly that the drafters are not doing their wish and not hide by referring to wishes of the people,” he said.

“The party is also using the issue of homosexuality as a campaign tool against the MDC-T.

“That is why they have an interest on the issue of property rights because they want all natural resources in Zimbabwe under their hands.”

Gilbert Kagodora, a political analyst, said Zanu PF was only interested in maintaining the status quo, not defending people’s views.

“Zanu PF would like the status quo to remain so they use the media and security sectors to campaign for them during elections,” he said. A referendum on the new constitution is expected later this year before elections are held.