That Zanu PF has not come up with a common position after lengthy meetings does not only show that the party is in a quandary over the new charter, but spells disaster for the country.
With conflicting statements coming from Zanu PF circles about the draft constitution, the country has every reason to be worried, particularly when most of the dithering involves Zanu PF, a party that has immensely benefited from the current Lancaster House constitution.
From the earliest indications, it was evident that Zanu PF was the least of all the parties in the inclusive government to adopt a new constitution.
But when the party politburo first met, the impression was that the party was happy with the draft and had endorsed most of it. It was quite tempting to easily assume that the next politburo meeting would put the issue to bed.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa claimed that Zanu PF was happy with 97 % of the draft.
But failure to strike consensus only served to confirm growing divisions in President Robert Mugabe’s party, with a hardline group led by Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo appearing determined to get the party reject the draft.
Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo however, had tried to downplay the tension in his party by saying Zanu PF was looking at the draft constitution “chapter-by-chapter, sentence-by-sentence and word-by-word”, hence the delay.
The two MDC parties have already endorsed the new charter at a time Zanu PF seems determined to open the whole document for renegotiation.
MDC leader Welshman Ncube said he would not allow anyone from introducing any amendment on the document.
Ncube said although the document is not the best, it came out of a painstaking compromise and should be adopted and amendments done after elections.
Moyo has described the draft as lifeless, “a body without a brain and without a heart.” Moyo had been trying to discredit the document saying it was targeted at Mugabe and the service chiefs.
Zanu PF dissenters claim the draft constitution strips the presidency of powers, downplays the significance of the liberation war for independence and is thin on national objectives and foundations.
The hardliners are also critical of attempts to strip the Attorney-General of certain powers, the establishment of a constitutional court and elements of devolution — chiefly a provision requiring provincial governors to be voted in, not appointed.
It is becoming evident that Mugabe’s Zanu PF party is pushing for a deadlock in the constitution-making process to justify getting to the next elections using the old constitution, a move that will be costly in reversing the gains already made in democratising the country.
All the reform efforts will be compromised if Zanu PF is allowed to determine or drive the constitution-making process towards its selfish ends.
Ncube and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai should declare the constitution-making process a closed chapter — no more amendments to the draft— and allow the people of Zimbabwe to decide through a constitutional referendum.