PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is reportedly attempting to rope in Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku to finalise the draft constitution, a development being fiercely resisted by the two MDC parties, who insist on the parliamentary process.
John Nyashanu/Everson Mushava
According to Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), the process should be driven by Parliament and only assumed by the Executive when Mugabe calls for a referendum.
Well-placed sources told NewsDay yesterday that Mugabe has since lost faith in his Government of National Unity (GNU) and Copac representatives, who are said to be pushing their own agendas in the intricate Zanu PF intra-party battles to succeed him.
Tomana and Chidyausiku’s looming involvement in the constitution-making process brings a new dimension to the exercise which Mugabe wants finalised by him and his co-principals in the coalition government.
In his address during the official opening of Parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe said it was now incumbent upon the GPA principals to come up with mechanisms to conclude the Copac draft.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leader Welshman Ncube have since dissociated themselves from Mugabe’s intention, which they have described as illegal.
The Copac select committee met on Wednesday to finalise the report on the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference which is expected to be submitted to the management committee on Monday. The report will then be handed over to the GPA principals. Mugabe has reportedly come up with a strategy to then dump Copac and let Tomana and Chidyausiku complete the process with the direction of the GNU principals.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka confirmed he had heard about the President’s intentions, but said no official communication had been forwarded to the Premier as yet.
He, however, said Tsvangirai would not agree to the arrangement on the grounds that the two officials were allegedly heavily compromised.
“Assuming that this is the mechanism President Mugabe was referring to, Chidyausiku and Tomana are interested parties and that will not be acceptable,” Tamborinyoka said. “Chidyausiku is tainted because of his role in the 2000 elections and Tomana is compromised because the constitution wants to strip his powers. He is also an outstanding GPA issue.”
Ncube also blasted the move, saying it would compromise the positions of the two senior civil servants. “There is no agreement to do that. In the circumstances, I do not believe that the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe could agree to be roped into a unilateral, very political, highly contentious and extremely divisive process,” he said. According to Zanu PF sources, Mugabe’s move to wrest the process from Parliament would seem to confirm his fears of losing power.
“He feels betrayed by the people he chose to represent the party in the process — the co-chair Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana and representatives in the management committee, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Nicholas Goche,” said the source.
Mugabe, the source said, feels there are too many divisions in his party, the reason why some members sacrificed party interests for “selfish gains”.
Mugabe is also said to have lost faith in the party’s legal committee led by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is reportedly battling to succeed the veteran ruler and has to fend off a serious challenge, allegedly from a faction said to be led by Mugabe’s second-in-command Joice Mujuru.
Party members have been casting aspersions back and forth, accusing each other of selling out, a development that has culminated in a $1 million lawsuit against the national broadcaster, ZBC, by Mangwana.
Recently, Guruve South MP Edward Chindori-Chininga revealed that Zanu PF members entrusted to Copac were too pre-occupied with factional politics to adequately represent the party’s interests.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba last night said he was not in the picture that Mugabe wanted to rope in Chidyausiku and Tomana in the constitution-making process. “I’m not aware of that. You can ask (Constitutional Affairs) Minister Eric Matinenga.”
Efforts to get a comment from Matinenga were fruitless.