PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week conceded defeat in the constitution-making process, saying the draft charter was a compromise document and promised traditional leaders that his government would amend the new supreme law once voted into power in the forthcoming general elections.
Report by Moses Matenga/ Tatenda Chitagu
Zimbabwe is expected to go for a referendum on a new constitution on March 16 after three years of tussling between Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and the two MDCs in the inclusive government.
Mugabe, whose party has been under fire from chiefs for compromising to a Copac constitution that has curtailed the powers of traditional leaders who played a pivotal role for Zanu PF in the past elections, assured his supporters that amendments would be made in line with the party’s demands in the event the party won the next polls.
He was speaking at a belated Annual Chiefs’ Conference in Masvingo last Friday where he also launched seven community share ownership schemes in the province.
“We agreed on the constitution, not all that we wanted came out,” Mugabe said.
“It was a compromise. After the elections, we will amend the constitution to fit in some of your views, right now we must get rid of this three-headed creature.”
Mugabe at one point vehemently threatened to go for elections using the Lancaster House Constitution if the MDCs refused to accommodate Zanu PF’s demands, but made a sudden about-turn and compromised. That was after his party rejected the Copac constitution released on July 18.
Zanu PF held four meetings that amounted to an excess of 50 hours with politburo members burning the midnight oil to come up with amendments to the draft. The party rewrote the draft constitution, proposing 266 changes claiming they represented the people’s views raised during the outreach programme to collect information.
But the party later withdraw its threats and allowed the the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference to proceed.
On January 17, Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and MDC leader Welshman Ncube announced they had made a breakthrough on the draft constitution that was later passed by Parliament on February 6.
But after Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira said the Copac draft was not the best they wanted and should be altered before polls likely to take place in July this year, Mugabe admitted his compromises were not a victory for Zanu PF and promised to amend it as soon as he was voted into power.
Zanu PF was against several clauses that later found their way into the final draft to be subjected to a referendum such as devolution of power, dual citizenship, the setting-up of the National Prosecuting Authority and the Constitutional Court.