PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has for the first time openly blasted the Copac constitution-making process, saying it had to be closely monitored because the drafters constantly drifted away from their core duties.
Addressing the Zanu PF central committee in Harare yesterday ahead of the official opening of the party's annual conference in Gweru today, Mugabe said he had to take control of the draft constitution because those entrusted with the process had been overcome by "ill-winds".
"It became our duty; our calling; a national service to monitor the constitution exercise for it became clear that those entrusted as drafters had regrettably been overcome by ill-winds and become drifters in the process," said Mugabe.
"Who can forget the trickery and chicanery we had to look out for, eventually fight, as dirty Western hands tried to cheat their way into the constitution- making process. While our people's views were simple and straightforward, sincere and reflective of the history of their existence, the Western crooks, apparently here to help us, soon proved to be conduits through which to smuggle foreign, clearly anathema views into our constitution," Mugabe said.
The initial Copc draft tried to bar Mugabe from re-election through term and age limits.
At the all-stakeholders meeting in Harare in October, Mugabe set himself on a collision course with the two MDC formations, parliament and civil society by declaring that the principals would have the final say on the draft constitution.
Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have since appointed a ministerial committee to renegotiate the final Copac draft presented to the all-stakeholders conference.
Mugabe assured the central committee that Zanu PF would provide solid leadership and solutions, hence the takeover of the process from Copac.
Zanu PF was accused of stalling the constitution-making process on several occasions after the party made wholesale revisions to the draft constitution, mostly to retain Mugabe's imperial powers which have been curtailed by the draft.
Zanu PF said the Copac draft, which the party's mandated representatives approved, did not capture the views and aspirations of the people or protect gains of the liberation struggle.