Officially opening the Fifth Session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe on Tuesday in the capital, President Robert Mugabe confirmed fears the nation has had since the constitution-making process started in 2009 — that he would hijack the constitutional review in his and Zanu PF’s quest for political supremacy.
This time around he’s doing it smartly, using the leadership of the inclusive government to seize control of the constitution-making process from being a Parliament-led process to a principals-guided review. Mugabe told bamboozled MPs that the principals — the President, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara or MDC leader Welshman Ncube — would set up an appropriate mechanism to build the required consensus on the new constitution.
“The (Copac) select committee should work frantically to produce a report of the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference summarising the views expressed by stakeholders, in particular the divergent views and submit to principals in the government,” Mugabe said.
“Should the people express their affirmation of the draft constitution, then Parliament would be asked to pass it as the fundamental law of our country. Elections will then become a necessity sequel.”
He maintained that the remaining stages of the constitution-making process would be completed by the principals, while Parliament would merely endorse the new governance charter.
Mugabe’s stance flies in the face of claims that the new supreme law is people-driven. From the outset, we questioned the sincerity and commitment of Mugabe and Zanu PF to the process.
The party has a raft of amendments it wants to be incorporated in the draft and Mugabe wants to take advantage of the dysfunctional principals’ forum to force through his party’s changes.
Mugabe strongly believes he can manipulate his co-principals into agreeing to incorporate Zanu PF’s amendments meant to entrench an imperial Executive and tighten grip on power.
We are alarmed by the silence of Tsvangirai, Mutambara and Ncube on the hijacking of the constitution-making process by Mugabe in the name of principals. We wonder if they are in agreement with Mugabe and Zanu PF. We hope they will soon come out of their shells and stop Mugabe from “stealing” the people’s project. Mugabe is now more concerned with constitutionality at the expense of constitutionalism.
A constitution without constitutionalism should be rejected by Zimbabweans. The electorate should say no to greedy politicians who don’t care about posterity. We should not allow the fallacy of composition to derail the constitution-making process.
We need a constitution with constitutionalism. We should worry about processes, not the end state. The electorate should fight Mugabe’s unilateralism and dictatorship in the constitution-making process! It is our duty and obligation to do so.