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Is Zanu PF Divided Over Constitution?

With the submission of the draft constitution to political principals recently, it would appear that, finally, there is forward movement towards the conclusion of the process. However, there bickering over Zimbabwe's supreme law is persisting, but now, not so much among political parties, but, it appears, heated debate is mainly within Zanu PF.

 

On Saturday, 28 July, the MDC [T] National Executive Committee met to receive a report and consider the draft constitution and concluded that they were satisfied that the draft 'essentially captures the views of the people of Zimbabwe and represents an incremental gain in the democratisation process.' They then resolved to support the draft Constitution.

 

The previous day the Zanu PF politburo had met to deliberate on the draft constitution but meeting ended without a position on the draft. However, one of the Zanu PF negotiators and justice minister Patrick Chinamasa stated that the Zanu PF politburo had endorsed 97% of the draft with a few contested areas including the national objectives and foundations; the appointment of provincial governors; allowing the president to deploy defence forces outside the country without consulting parliament; the removal of the constitutional court from the draft; opposition to the restructuring of the Attorney General's office to create an independent National Prosecution Authority; and opposition to a section dealing with the nomination of presidential candidates and their running mates.

 

Minister Chinamasa concluded by saying, "the Politburo and Zanu-PF are committed to seeing this process through. A lot of resources have been expended; we cannot afford to see the process come to naught. €

 

Interestingly, yesterday (31 July), Zanu PF politburo member professor Jonathan Moyo came out guns blazing in his address at an IDASA meeting in Pretoria where he outrightly dismissed the draft constitution as not being a draft constitution, but a political pamphlet. He lamented that the constitution is now concluding in negotiations characterised by compromise - and for him the word compromise is 'shorthand for major selling out.' While noting that Zanu PF was yet to come up with a position on the draft, he said his personal view was that the draft was a plagiarized document not reflective of the views of Zimbabweans.

 

Directly responding to comments by his colleague in Zanu PF that there was agreement to 97% of the draft, professor Moyo said the constitution is not a

percentage issue and that, if it was a body 97% good, perhaps the outstanding 3% is brain and heart; so the body cannot function. He said opposition to a new constitution ahead of elections is driven by a view that the constitution is a strategy to win elections by the MDC formations who view it as a transitional document to be revisited after elections. On that basis, he said, Zanu PF would not support the MDC to get power. He concluded by saying Zimbabwe does not have a constitutional crisis and does not need a new constitution to hold elections, which he said must be held as soon as possible this year.

This apparent and very public Zanu PF division over the constitution may be reflective of major faultlines emerging within the party given the various factions that may be jostling for power in their sunset politics. But it could also be an elaborate strategy by Zanu PF to feign confusion and opposition to the draft constitution which they know is largely reflective of their views in order to give an impression of compromising at a later stage. Justice minister Chinamasa is probably closer to the truth when he says Zanu PF is happy with 97% of the draft constitution, but professor Jonathan Moyo, being the spin doctor he is, probably wants to confuse the public about where Zanu PF stands.

 

Dewa Mavhinga, Regional Coordinator, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

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