Constitution splits Zanu PF

Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo yesterday rejected Zanu PF’s official position that it accepts 97% of the new draft constitution in the clearest indication yet that the party is heavily divided on the fate of the proposed new supreme law.

The Zanu PF politburo on Friday debated the draft and failed to come up with a clear position.

Another meeting will now be held tomorrow after the party’s negotiators were tasked to renegotiate some amendments to the document produced by the three governing parties – Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC – following almost three years of talks.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, a key Zanu PF negotiator in the Global Political Agreement, and the party’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told State media at the weekend that the politburo had endorsed 97% of the contents in the draft.

Chinamasa said a lot of resources had been put into producing the draft by the Constitution Select Committee (Copac) and throwing the document away would be irresponsible.

The party was only unhappy with provisions that seek to whittle down presidential powers, introduce devolution of power, Constitutional Court and an independent prosecutions authority.

But Moyo — who is believed to be the voice of securocrats keen on blocking any reforms that could weaken President Robert Mugabe’s grip on power — rubbished suggestions Zanu PF was largely happy with the draft.

“While I have seen the media remarks attributed to Cde Chinamasa, I am unable to confirm them one way or the other because I do not know anything about their source or purpose,” Moyo told New Zimbabwe, an online publication, yesterday.

“What I know is what the party spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo has said to the media to the effect that the party’s politburo is still seized with its examination of Copac’s final draft constitution and the official position of the party will only be known when that process has been properly concluded.

“As to the claim that the party allegedly endorsed 97% and queried 3%, I leave that to mathematicians because I do not see the relevance of those percentages because constitution-making is not a game of numbers, but is a matter of fundamental principles such that getting one principle right or wrong can in fact define or redefine a whole constitution.”

Moyo, who was in the forefront of a failed constitution-making process at the turn of the millennium, has been leading the onslaught against the current exercise.

He called Copac a “mafia” and has on several occasions advocated for the exercise to be abandoned saying it has failed.

Zanu PF is expected to come up with a final decision on the matter tomorrow amid indications that the hardliners in the party might come up with a raft of changes they would want railroaded before the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference expected next month.

It emerged yesterday the party had also made a U-turn on the provision of Vice-Presidents, saying it preferred the current system where they are appointed by the President, not elected as stipulated in the proposed governance charter.

The draft proposes a system similar to the one used in the United States where a candidate chooses running mates that automatically become Vice-Presidents in the event of election victory.

However, the lack of consensus in Zanu PF is likely to result in further delays to the constitution-making process as the MDC parties in the inclusive government have vowed not to give in to new demands.

“If people are allowed to continue bringing in changes, there will be no finality to the constitution-making process,” MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said yesterday.

“What is important about a constitution is not what Zanu PF wants, but what the people of Zimbabwe want. It is surprising that Zanu PF is bringing in new things, whereas these were issues brought up during negotiations and were solved. It is not proper to keep on bringing fresh issues.”

The MDC representative in Copac, Edward Mkhosi, accused Zanu PF of employing delaying tactics. He said the party was trying every trick in the book to force general elections under the current Lancaster House Constitution.

“I do not know why they raise fresh issues because all along we had them when we worked on the draft clause by clause,” Mkhosi said.

“Zanu PF claims to be a party for the people, but why are they not supporting devolution? They have already endorsed 97% of the draft, which is a bonus, but no party is expected to endorse the draft 100% and we hope they will make good decisions.”

National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku said it was now up to the principals in the inclusive government to resolve the fresh dispute.

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