President Robert Mugabe yesterday sparked a fresh row at the Copac Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference in Harare when he declared that only the Global Political Agreement (GPA) principals — and not MPs driving the constitution-making — have power over the process.
Report by Everson Mushava, Chief Reporter
This contradicted Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who had earlier said the process was driven by Article 6 of the GPA which required the Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac).
Mugabe — who reportedly almost collapsed the constitutional indaba by threatening a walkout — told delegates at the official opening of the conference that the qualitative method used by Copac frustrated the majority views.
Sources said Mugabe threatened to walk out of the conference after Copac chairpersons insisted MDC leader Welshman Ncube was the legitimate principal and not Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Ncube had demanded that Mutambara be removed from the conference because he did not represent any political party and, therefore, was not a GPA principal.
Mugabe, however, insisted Mutambara should stay and his stance eventually carried the day after he threatened to leave. Ncube and his supporters ended up boycotting the official opening. He, however, later said he had snubbed the official opening to register his displeasure, but would participate in the conference while he engaged Sadc over the matter.
According to a Sadc resolution made in Maputo, Mozambique, Mugabe is supposed to recognise Ncube as a principal ahead of Mutambara.
Mugabe said people expressed their views during the Copac outreach programme, but Copac cheated them using mathematics, employing the qualitative instead of the quantitative method.
“We want what the majority said they wanted,” Mugabe said. “Do not bring a new view (qualitative method) so that it destabilises us. A popular view is a popular view. When we are voting in the next elections, are we going to use the qualitative method?”
This is not the first time the draft constitution has been stalled over which methodology to adopt. In the run-up to yesterday’s conference, parties involved in the constitution-making process locked horns for nearly six weeks after failing to find common ground. Zanu PF insisted on the quantitative method while the two MDCs preferred the qualitative one. The Copac management committee later intervened and convinced the parties to use both methods.
The national statistical report, according to Zanu PF Copac co-chair Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, was produced using both methods, but with Mugabe’s fresh demands, it means the process is likely to start all over again.
“Mwonzora (Douglas, the Copac co-chair for MDC-T) and your Mangwana, you are now boasting. Sometimes people fail to know where they draw their power from.
“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,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe urged delegates to be objective and peaceful at the indaba. He castigated violence, saying it was a primitive way of settling disputes.
Speaking at the event, Tsvangirai also called for peace, saying Zimbabwe could not afford to waste more time in the constitution-making process. He said by successfully completing the process, it meant Zimbabweans could be masters of their own fate.
“After 32 years of independence, Zimbabwe is still using the ceasefire constitution. If we complete the process, it means the people of Zimbabwe have chosen constitutionalism and not militarism,” Tsvangiriai said.