Articles

ZANU-PF stalls constitutional reform again

The recent attempts by ZANU PF, to stall progress in the constitution making process are a clear sign that the "revolutionary € party is afraid of genuine reforms. It seems allergic to free and fair elections and anything that puts the party up for genuine democratic scrutiny and a fair test of its popularity by the people. The fact that ZANU PF claims to be the party of the people, yet fights what is good for them, and the fact that as a liberation movement, ZANU PF seems more intent on clawing back rather than growing people's freedom, is indicative of not just their fears but also the rank hypocrisy that has now become synonymous with the party.

Manifesting this fear and leading this hypocritical march is the recent ZANU-PF's push to undemocratically renegotiate and realign parts of the country's draft constitution in spite of it being a product of negotiation by negotiators in the GPA who had a mandate from their parties agreeing to it as the final draft. ZANU PF held an extraordinary meeting on Friday the 3rd of July 2012 to come up with a position on the draft constitution The Politburo is said to have gone through the draft sentence by sentence, clause by clause and had accepted about 97% of the draft's contents. "We were asked to renegotiate and realign the document with the public's views. On the whole, 97% of the document has been endorsed by the politburo," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa who is also Zanu (PF)'s Chief Negotiator, is reportedly to have said. Zanu Pf also claims that the draft constitution still needs alterations specifically on   the appointment of     Governors, provincial councils, separation of powers, and the restructuring of the Attorney-General's office. The new constitution draft allows a party with the highest number of Parliamentary seats in a given province to nominate two candidates, one of whom will be appointed Provincial Governor by the President.   However according to ZANU-PF, direct appointment of Governors by the President must be maintained. The same applies with the provision for provincial councils where the party rejected the proposed changes which allow political parties to nominate individuals who sit in the Provincial Council and instead maintained that the status quo should subsist on the basis of the need to create harmony between the functions of local authorities and national plans and objectives.

 

The notion being peddled by ZANU-PF is not only a retrogression from the path of progress towards democratisation which the country set foot on at independence in 1980 after huge losses of blood, sweat and tears, but also a derogation from the Global Political Agreement (GPA). It is common cause that the GPA dictates that elections can only be held after the completion of the constitution making process and the institution of democratic reforms on the media, state institutions, security sector, justice delivery, constitutional human rights watchdogs, legislation and the facilitation of justice in the context of the transition.

The rejection comes barely a week after Jonathan Moyo a ZANU PF politburo member and former Information Minister rejected the draft constitution dismissing it as "a wrong constitution, crafted by wrong people for the wrong reasons at the wrong time €¦ the draft is an attack, quite a serious attack on our sovereignty, quite a serious attack on our democracy. €

It is becoming glaringly evident that Zanu PF wants to deliberately delay the constitution-making process. It is now in the public domain     that Zanu PF wants the constitution making process to fail so that the forthcoming elections are held under the discredited Lancaster House constitution which has been amended 19 times in the last 32 years.

ZANU PF'S hasty retreat from the objectives of the liberation struggle around people power and real democratisation, as evidenced through its phobia for reforms, is best seen through its continuum of attempts at derailing the constitution making process since inception. From the negotiation of the GPA, ZANU PF argued for clawing back the influence of the people through making the process parliament driven, with limited control by ordinary Zimbabweans. When the process actually started, brawn was used to disrupt the 1st All Stakeholders Conference, then came the dictates around funding and the non-acceptance of expert help even from fellow Africans, then the bussing and coaching, the disruptions of COPAC processes including press conferences, and of late unsubstantiated accusations, deliberate misinformation through leaking unauthenticated documents, and the new assertions that after 3 years of the process, the process does not matter after all. ZANU PF has literally thrown the kitchen sink in its attempts to impede and ultimately stop the process.

The real question is why? Why is it that a party that professes to abore everything from the West, is comfortable sticking to a constitution written in the Heart of London at Lancaster in 1979? Why is it that a party that resolved at its own congress in 1997 that Constitutional Reform was necessary, and even led the institution in 1999 of a constitutional reform process which people condemned and its outputs rejected on Valentine's Day in the year 2000, is so keen to see to it that the current process dies without being subjected to democratic scrutiny by the people? Is it a case of the Devil quoting scriptures or a genuine meeting of minds and ZANU PF admitting for the first time that they got it wrong?

The answer in our opinion is simple. ZANU-PF is a party driven and filled by the demon of fear. For so long we have argued correctly that ZANU-PF has been benefiting from the harvest of fear. We have argued that it gets by through infusing fear into the hearts of people through beating and coercing; and it has been argued killing people as a way of planting the seeds of fear for its benefit. We have not argued enough, how ZANU PF itself is gripped the by fear of losing its hold on the state, which it has held hostage for 32 years now. We have not explored how it is gripped in some respects by the fear that the longer it takes to get to an election, the less marketable and able their preferred candidate becomes.

ZANU PF is afraid that a new Constitutional Dispensation will establish strong institutions and mechanisms that at best may hold them accountable for their 'moments of madness from the past', and at worst ensure that there is no leeway for anyone in power to have such monumental 'moments of madness'. ZANU PF is afraid that a new constitutional dispensation will make it impossible to capture institutions and ensure that they are only beholden to ZANU PF instead of Parliament and the people. It is afraid that a new constitutional dispensation might actually be democratic to the extent that it will lay the foundation for strong institutions that are non-partisan and professional; and mechanisms that limit unchecked executive power.

There is an ensconcing fear in ZANU PF that they may yet suffer for having the same tool for all purposes. ZANU PF is infamous for their deployment of vigilante groups and militants to deal with political questions. For a long time, violence has been the tool of choice. The Constitution making process, especially the thematic committee, compilation of reports and the drafting of clauses, has been going through a technical phase, where the use of the brain rather than brawn was demanded. It is clear from the vociferous protests, and threats to dump the process that ZANU PF could have been outflanked through poor deployment. Deploying war veterans and militants to engage in this process is tantamount to putting in hardware where software is required, and clearly the tool fit for purpose is the one that prevails. The fear is that the consequences of deploying noise makers in a situation where point makers were needed may be actually a constitution that, at least in substance, is actually democratic.

Attempts to disrupt the process before it is subject to public scrutiny and ZANU PF's attempt to ursap the power of the people, though characteristic, is premised on the reality from the 2000 referendum and re-emphasised in March 2008, that the notion of "ZANU is the people and the people are ZANU € is no longer the truth, if it ever was. Aligned to this fear is the hypocrisy that a party which is party to the state by force not by the people's will, can actually pretend to speak for the people when there are processes that should allow the people to speak for themselves.

A new Constitution will entail new terms of engagement. It will entail realigning the states' infrastructure to the new constitutional dictates. It will mean an election that for the first time in 32 years ZANU PF will have to get into without the comfort of imperial powers in the office of the President which they currently occupy.

Indeed the process has not been as people driven as perfection would have warranted. But ZANU PF has no right to take this sense that they refused to listen to for over 15 years (since formation in 1997), and use it as a way of replacing the people. ZANU PF should let the people speak for themselves and if the constitution is not what they want, they will reject it.

ZANU-PF publicly stated that it wants polls to be held this year to bring closure to the acrimonious relationship between political parties in the GPA despite advice to the contrary by the SADC Troika which held a Special Summit on Zimbabwe on the 31st May 2012 in Luanda, Angola. SADC did not endorse ZANU-PF's push to hold elections this year, with or without a new constitution, but instead directed the GNU partners to stage polls within 12 months and conclude the process of coming up with a new constitution, fully implement the Global Political Agreement, including key media and electoral reforms.

The nation cannot continue to be held back by ZANU PF's insatiable appetite for power, and its attempt to subvert people's aspirations which are captured to a larger extent in the draft constitution.. ZANU PF's desperate and frantic efforts to avoid these democratic reforms are just but a show of how the liberation party fears change and banks on old tactics to gain control. These are the times to stand up and refuse to be intimidated and duped by a political oligarchy that has outlived its purpose. Professor Moyo and ZANU PF's   greatest fear is that, Zimbabweans will be able to speak without any fear or favour; and what they will say will most likely be unfavourable to them. Honourable Tendai Biti categorically stated that the current draft is a triumvirate of the good, the bad and the ugly because it is a product of both the people's views that were captured during the COPAC outreach meetings and negotiations between the political players in the Inclusive Government. ZANU PF should not speak for the people and must allow Zimbabweans to decide on what they want at the Referendum

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