Game over for COPAC draft negotiations

It is commendable that both formations of the MDC have already endorsed the Copac draft constitution. It is, however, not surprising that Zanu (PF), divided as it is, is taking forever to come to terms with some of the provisions in that governance charter.

John Makumbe
John Makumbe

It is clear to some of us that it is Zanu (PF) that stands to lose the most should the Copac draft sail through the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference, scheduled for the end of this month or early September. What is fascinating is that Zanu (PF) representatives participated fully in the writing of draft they are now disputing. They even signed every page of the document willingly and not under duress. At this stage, it is far too late to re-open negotiations. There has to be an end to all these talks; it is now time to take the document to the people so that they decide for themselves.

The on-going discussions within Zanu (PF) are obviously delaying the whole constitution making process at the expense of national and democratic development in this country. What the Mugabe party needs to be told is that they should simply make up their minds to accept or reject the Copac draft. If they accept it, they should actively campaign for a “Yes” vote in the forthcoming referendum. If they are opposed to the draft they should simply urge their supporters to vote “No,” and may the best response win.

The truth of the matter is that Zanu (PF) knows very well that the majority of the voters in this country will not support them should their decision be at variance with that of the MDC formations. They know they will lose the vote very badly. This is the risk they are not willing to take again. We recall that the same thing happened in 2000, with devastating consequences for the former people’s party. Once bitten twice shy, or is it once beaten twice shy?

The divisions within that party are partly a function of its fear of the dismantling of dictatorship. All the objectionable clauses in the Copac draft have to do with the dilution of executive powers, particularly those exercised by the President. The outgoing ruling party forgets that the past 32 years have taught Zimbabweans many serious lessons about how not to make a dictatorship.

The Copac charter of governance is therefore experientially based. That is what the people said when they were engaged during the outreach meetings. It is not true that the Copac draft excludes the people’s views on any matter. Zanu (PF) is finding it rather difficult to believe that the people of this country would have said some of the tough things contained in the Copac draft. It seeks to democratise the Zimbabwean body politic, and Zanu (PF) finds that unacceptable.

The two MDC formations should insist that the time for negotiations is long over, and that the parties to the Global Political Agreement now owe it to this nation to move forward and implement all the reforms that have since been agreed, particularly those indicated in the roadmap to democratic elections. It must be noted that there are also numerous issues that the two MDC formations would have wanted included in or excluded from the Copac draft, but they are willing to accept that draft as it is right now so that the nation can move ahead. Why can Zanu (PF) not do the same?

Post published in: Analysis

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