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Thursday, 17 May 2012

TIME OF RECKONING FOR COPAC

Introduced executive powers-The late Edison Zvogbo

By Blessing Vava

Now that COPAC has officially released its first draft constitution exactly 24 months after its inception in April 2009, the bickering and the hide and seek game has finally come to an end. They can no longer hide anymore. After failing to produce a draft after the stipulated 18 months in the GPA, and stretching this far, the people of Zimbabwe have now seen for themselves what the select committee was doing for the past 24 months in coming out with an incomplete draft. Notwithstanding the 45million dollars wasted by COPAC, in hotel accommodation, allowances, and various other processes undertaken by COPAC, the 161 paged draft is nothing but just a replica of the Kariba draft with a few changes here and there. The negotiated  document authored by the three political parties and bearing no views from the people should never be accepted by the people of Zimbabwe because it does not contain their views. It boggles my mind why the select committee even wasted time in collecting the views of the people while they knew already that those views would be thrown by the wayside.

Morgan Tsvangirai- eyeing to enjoy the executive powers
One section which has already raised the ire of most Zimbabweans is Chapter 6, were COPAC has once again retained the all-powerful president with his executive powers. Like the present constitution the president is still the Head of State and Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, a president which many Zimbabweans will surely not accept. It was rejected in the 2000 draft and it will be rejected again this time around.  Zimbabweans have learnt a lesson in what it means to have an executive president,  again this is one of the many reasons why this draft will not be accepted should the referendum be held. By agreeing to include such a dangerous clause it also means that even the MDC would also want Tsvangirai to enjoy the same powers once he becomes president.   That is why those who opposed the process did not want to have politicians driving the process, for politicians it is for their political power and nothing else.

Interestingly there has been spirited attacks on COPAC and the draft constitution  mainly by the hardliners in ZANU PF and recently we heard the military voicing their anger on the draft constitution. Of course ZANU PF never wanted a new constitution period!  They are very much comfortable with the Lancaster House peace charter that they have been abusing to remain in power and they are even pushing for elections to be held under the flawed amended 1979 cease fire agreement.  Therefore, their participation in COPAC should be interrogated. There are three questions which I think form the basis for their decision to agreeing to have the process in the first place.

Paul Mangwana COPAC CO-Chairperson
Firstly, Did ZANU PF enter the process to fulfil the requirements of the GPA? Article Six of the GPA gives a provision for the writing of a new constitution to be spearheaded by a select committee of parliament.

Secondly,   was it just to buy  time knowing fully well that somewhere in the middle of the park they were going to frustrate the process so that we remain with the Lancaster House constitution and go for elections with that document, a chorus that is now being amplified in ZANU PF’ s circles? We should not forget that the GPA was a life saver to ZANU PF. In the early stages of the new government they pretended to be fully committed to it, but tactfully buying time to re-organise their camp that had been disintegrated by the shock of the March 2008 election.  This is the same tactic they employed on the constitution making.

Thirdly they might have genuinely entered the process thinking that they were going to influence the outcomes from the outreach meetings. This they based on the assumption that they have a more organised and coherent membership than the MDC.  However think that all the parties were not happy about some of the issues raised by Zimbabweans during the outreach process, this might be  the reason why the parties ended up negotiating positions and dumping the views of the people.


As for ZANU PF’s spirited attacks on COPAC might not necessarily be genuine; it might be a calculated move to deceive the MDC. Simply putting it, the MDC thinks that what ZANU PF is against is therefore good, just because ZANU PF will be saying no to it. ZANU PF is part of COPAC, they had their representatives, who are still part and parcel of the same process but today they act as if that draft is a product of the two MDC formations. The COPAC draft is a collective document of the three parties and  I am really surprised by the discord coming from the parties. Whilst there are some elements within the MDC who foolishly think that the COPAC draft is a good document simply because ZANU PF is attacking it, my advice to such elements is to re-think before celebrating half time oranges before the trophy.

 A closer look at the draft one will notice that the MDC lost it on some of the important issues that they were pushing for. On the core issues parked excluding devolution which has been rejected the issue of the diaspora vote and dual citizenship are seemingly heading the same drain. Why is it in all the negotiations done so far between the parties, the MDC are always tricked? The MDC’s failure to defend their initial positions in the negotiations  is very much regrettable. They are being tricked once again,  ZANU PF  is scared of devolution mainly because of its unpopularity in Matabeleland. And by doing away with it in the constitution they are aware and scared to the reality of that Diaspora vote as many Zimbabweans who are in the diaspora left either because of political persecution or economic hardships caused by the ZANU PF regime. 

So as the circus continues, again Zimbabweans will be relegated to the peripheries as politicians continue panel beating the document to suit their political needs and not the needs of the Zimbabwean. This constitution making process has been one hell of a process that has failed to meet any standards of constitution making. Rather it has been more of a comical show than constitution writing. ZANU PF’s strategy now seems to be carrying the day. And now that the process is coming to an end we expect  COPAC to publish the national report and a detailed audit report on the finances  used since the process started. COPAC should account for every dollar that they used since constitution making process was not their private affair but rather  a national process that affect 13 million Zimbabweans. The audit results should be made public because it is the right for every Zimbabwean to know how the funds were used. Zvazviri!
 
Nb; should you wish to reproduce this article please attribute to www.blevava.blogspot.com