3 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Parties Should Admit Failure - Analysts

Political parties spearheading the constitution making process have come under fire from some observers who argue they should admit failure to produce a new supreme law to pave way for the holding of harmonised elections.

They said there was no way Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC were going to agree on the new constitution because they had irreconcilable fundamental differences.

"There is a limit to the patience that people have had on this constitution making exercise," said Midlands State University Dean of Social Sciences, Mr Christopher Gwatidzo.

"People have tolerated enough of this bickering among the parties in charge of this process. We don't want to send a wrong signal that we are a country in a crisis yet we have a constitution in place. We are not coming from a war or a crisis. We have a constitution in place.

"Parties should just campaign and tell the electorate their value system. After the elections, whoever wins will then be in charge of the constitution making process. It would appear we are being held at ransom."

Mr Gwatidzo said politicking around the constitution making process had diverted Government attention from other developmental projects like preparations for the agricultural season.

University of Zimbabwe Political Science lecturer, Professor John Makumbe, said the parties were supposed to admit that they reached a deadlock.

He said there was no way the parties were going to resolve their differences because they were tussling for power.

He said there were three options on the way forward.

"The first option is to take both the Copac draft and the draft with the Zanu-PF proposed amendments to the referendum for the people to vote. "The second option is for the ministerial committee recently established to bring in Jacob Zuma and his team (Sadc facilitation team) to come in but they cannot dictate to us what to do. They can only make recommendations on where the parties can compromise.

"The last option is for all the three parties to agree they have failed to come up with a new constitution and go for elections with the current constitution and leave the new constitution to be done by the new government. This is the weakest option because it's an admission of failure on the part of these political parties," said Prof Makumbe.

International Crisis Group Southern Africa analyst, Mr Trevor Maisiri, said the new constitution was not supposed to be linked to the upcoming harmonised elections.

"It is clear that these parties will not agree because there were disagreements at Copac and the Cabinet committee also failed to solve those differences.

"The parties should admit that they have failed to agree on the contentious issues so that the Sadc facilitation team can come in and help with some recommendations. However, it should be noted that Sadc cannot dictate to us what to do but should allow parties to negotiate in their presence so that they can give suggestions on what they think should be done to break the deadlock," said Mr Maisiri.

Dr Charity Manyeruke, a lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the University of Zimbabwe said the only solution was for the country to go for elections under the current constitution.

She said there was not much difference between the current constitution and the draft constitution on electoral provisions, hence credible polls could be held under the current constitution.

Political analyst Mr Gabriel Chaibva said the three parties in government were never going to agree on the draft constitution.

"There is nowhere in the history of mankind where constitutions have been written in the manner we have tried to do it here by bringing all and sundry, reactionaries included, in trying to write a constitution that seeks to protect the interests of foreigners contracted with those who want to entrench Zimbabwean interests.

"Any constitution should have its guiding principle on national interests but in our case we know who the reactionaries and proxies of foreign forces are. On the other hand, we have a revolutionary party, a party for democracy and for Zimbabwean interests.

"How can a mixed grill write a constitution that seeks to defend the interests of Zimbabwe. It just can't happen. We should just proceed to elections under the current constitution and then the victor will spearhead the process based on the mandate given to them by the electorate," said Mr Chaibva.

A seven-member committee charged with resolving the 30 contentious issues that arose after the Second Stakeholders Conference has failed to break the impasse and continues to request for more time to consult their principals.

The new constitutional process has been haunted by controversy since Copac was established a few years ago after it failed to meet deadlines over disagreements.

New areas of disagreement include whether the new law should provide for the appointment of a minister responsible for civil service.

Zanu-PF also argues that the draft does not defend, protect and preserve the values of the liberation struggle.

The parties also differ on whether or not the Constitution should provide for the appointment of a Minister of Intelligence Services and whether or not the title should be Correctional Service or Prison and Correctional Services.

They are also disagreeing on whether or not traditional leaders should be members of political parties, whether or not an Act of Parliament should provide for National Youth Service and whether or not to separate empowerment and employment creation from development with the two being stand-alone clauses.

The parties are also haggling over how a successor would be chosen in case of incapacitation of the President.

The Constitution-making process that was expected to take about 18 months has taken over three years because of bickering among the political parties.

The MDC formations endorsed the draft in its entirety, but Zanu-PF proposed amendments that were taken to the second all stakeholders conference.

The revolutionary party argued that the draft had deviated from the people's views gathered during the outreach programme.

MDC formations have mainly been basing their preferences on "international best practices", while Zanu-PF used the outreach national report that outlines the number of times an issue was raised by the people.

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