As the debate and bickering over the constitution-making process escalates ahead of the second All-Stakeholders’ Conference amid fears Zanu PF could scuttle the process, our Chief Reporter Everson Mushava (ND) caught up with political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya (RN), who is also a Copac rapporteur, to talk about disagreements on which documents must be tabled at the meeting.
Report by Everson Mushava
Below are excerpts of the conversation.
ND: Zanu PF has proposed that the Copac draft be accompanied by the national statistical report at the conference. Do you see this as a feasible option?
RN: We cannot talk of feasibility. It is not a Global Political Agreement (GPA) deliverable. It is very clear from the Constitution Select Committee meeting report that the national report is only part of the parliamentary report back system.
In other words, just the draft constitution and the national report can only be presented back to Parliament because Parliament will be the more legitimate way of analysing the document fully.
For stakeholders, it will be too much detail. All the issues that are reflected in the Copac draft came from the documentation that Zanu PF claims excluded the people’s views, the constitutional issues, the statistical outreaches and narrative outreach, just as an example, so all these sectors are the ones that contributed to what is in the Copac report.
If we want to take all the information that is in those reports, how much time would we need? We would need probably two months.
ND: You said there were many documents produced by Copac. Which document does Zanu PF want to be taken to the conference?
RN: When Zanu PF talks of the national report, the degree of deception and hypocricy is reflected in what they consider to be the national report.
They are talking about the national rural and national urban outreach reports.
They are very careful to avoid talking about website, Diaspora sectorial submissions from parliamentarians, children and disabled. Zanu PF simply wants a report that reflects the rural and urban outreaches only without reports from other sections.
Without the report from the second All-Stakeholders’ Conference and referendum process, the report is incomplete.
The agreement was to submit the report together with the draft constitution to Parliament after the process was complete.
ND: Now that the MDCs have demanded all documents produced by Copac from the outreach programme up to this day, do you think it will work in their favour?
RN: Yes, although I think it was not a good idea. It will expose the hypocrisy of Zanu PF by showing that what is in the national report is not what Zanu PF says are the views of the people.
Not all issues raised were constitutional, for example. Most Zanu PF strongholds proposed the jailing and killing of journalists and publishers who wrote badly about the President. Honestly, best practice does not allow that.
This is not sharia law.
The narrative report will therefore show what the parties agreed on, apart from statistics. The stakeholders will see that Zanu PF ignored to tell them that the Copac draft is an aggregate of all these processes right from the beginning. That is why I say it is going to work wonders in favour of the MDC. Zanu PF is being selective in its explanation of the national report.
The key documents that make up the national report are more important than the statistical ones. The MDCs have a slight majority over Zanu PF in Parliament and if parliamentary submissions are taken into account, strong MDC ideological views will threaten Zanu PF’s position.
We are not talking about the majority of people, but issues that were mentioned in some sectors that are not reflected in the draft will expose Zanu PF propaganda.
The narrative report will describe the environment under which the meeting took place. Some meetings were cancelled due to intimidation and violence while some people were prohibited from speaking. Zanu PF supporters would tell you that they chose to speak.
For example, at Greystone Park Primary School, Zanu PF supporters were frog-matched to the meeting. White people were ejected, saying the country did not belong to them.
ND: There has been haggling over frequencies. What strategy was used to come up with these national statistics?
RN: Zanu PF’s explanation on frequencies is full of deceit and blatant lies.
As Copac rapporteurs, we did not talk to people as individuals, but as groups known as wards. If an issue was raised at many meetings in the ward, it became the general view of the ward. If a view was mentioned in 1 000 wards out of 1 700 wards, that determine the percentage of frequency.
It had nothing to do with the number of people sitting in ameeting, but at how many meetings the issue rose.
ND: Do you think the draft constitution captures the people’s views?
RN: Yes, every view raised was captured and represented in the draft, including minority views. The amendments in the Zanu PF draft are views of Jonathan Moyo, Tafataona Mahoso, and Godwills Masimirembwa. Otherwise, Zanu PF’s views were incorporated right from day one.
For the conference to be successful there is need to immunise it from Zanu PF intimidation.