CONSTITUTIONAL experts, politicians and political analysts have reacted angrily to President Robert Mugabe’s recent declaration that the three principals in the coalition government will have the final say in the constitution-making process.
Report by Moses Matenga Staff Reporter
Officially opening the Copac-led Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference in Harare on Monday, Mugabe declared that only himself, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara would have the final input into the draft constitution before the document went to a referendum.
The analysts said Mugabe’s utterances were illegal and tantamount to the Executive usurping the powers of Parliament.
“Mwonzora (Douglas, the Copac co-chair for MDC-T) and your Mangwana (Paul, Zanu PF Copac co-chair), you are now boasting. Sometimes people fail to know where they draw their power from,” Mugabe said.
“We (principals) are responsible for giving instructions to those at the bottom. Parliament thinks it is so sovereign to contradict the acts of principals. No! No! Parliament has limitations. Principals caused the process to happen.”
But political analyst and National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the principals scored an “own goal” by making such proclamations as this defied the essence of people driving the process.
“I don’t know why they allow own goals by making such proclamations. Tsvangirai and Mutambara are also dishonest because they sit on the same table with Mugabe and it shows they agree with him,” he said.
“It has been clear that it was not people-driven, but that ultimately the President will have the final say. Isn’t it that the principals have a chairman among them and it happens to be Mugabe? It means he will make the ultimate decision.
“In any case, Tsvangirai said the Executive will give direction. It means Parliament will have no say. What the President said showed that it will not be people- driven. The public must wait and see and ultimately the wishes of the President, like what happened in 2000, will prevail,” he said.
MDC99 leader Job Sikhala said the three leaders had hijacked the process.
“It’s now a threesome. It has become very clear to us that this has become a constitution for Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara. Mugabe made it clear that it’s theirs and not the people’s and he has truly shown his unrepentant tendencies. I am told at the moment that Zanu PF amendments are sailing through and it means definitely the constitution is not the one by Zimbabweans, but is a constitution of the principals,” said Sikhala.
Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa said: “I don’t think the GPA says so. It’s a people-driven constitution as the GPA says. I cannot understand how you can all of a sudden see them having a final say. That will be an awkward arrangement. Somebody is trying to hijack the process.”
Simba Makoni, Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader, said Mugabe’s statement was unfounded and contradicted the spirit and notion of a people-driven process.
“Nowhere in the GPA are the so-called principals given a role, let alone final say, in the making of the new constitution. President Mugabe’s statement is not only unfounded, but also contradicts the spirit and notion of a people-driven constitution-making process.
“The three GPA leaders are not the only people in Zimbabwe; the country has 14 million citizens. The President’s utterances are also not shared by the other GPA principals. MKD wishes to embolden Copac and the people of Zimbabwe not to be intimidated and cowered by President Mugabe’s antics,” said Makoni.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Charity Manyeruke, however, said: “When people finish doing their business, obviously some people have to make a decision in terms of how to handle that.
“My experience from yesterday (Monday) is that the amendments required by the people are many and the Executive has to take charge and the Executive is the principals. They are executing their constitutional duties that they are to make a decision.
“It won’t kill anything about people driving the process. The principals are not there in their individual capacities. They were chosen by the people and it’s still people-driven and it has stages.”