ZANU PF’s draft charter “outrageous”

There have been harsh words, shock, disbelief and anger expressed by officials from the MDC-T, civic groups and ordinary Zimbabweans, in response to the revised draft charter submitted by ZANU PF this week.

Eric Matinenga
Eric Matinenga

Robert Mugabe finally delivered ZANU PF’s amended draft Constitution to the other Principals after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting. The draft contains amendments that ZANU PF is demanding, before the country holds an All Stakeholders Conference, ignoring the fact that the final draft has already been signed by all the negotiators.

ZANU PF said they were not happy with the current draft, insisting it did not represent the views of the people and the liberation values of the party.

The changes demanded by ZANU PF include a return of executive authority to the President, instead of the proposed system of having Cabinet share the power. They remove the proposed public interview process for the appointment of judges, leaving it to the President to make appointments. Presidential immunity was also retained.

Several provisions in the Bill of Rights were amended and all references to democratic society were deleted. ZANU PF also wants to introduce mandatory national youth service, ban any possibility of dual citizenship for those who are Zimbabwean by descent or registration and abolish the Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

On the contentious issue of security sector reform, ZANU PF removed provisions that require them to be non-partisan and professional. They also oppose the establishment of a national prosecuting authority, choosing to retain the current office of attorney general.

Responses to ZANU PF’s amendments came fast and furious, with the MDC-T dismissing them outright. The Minister for Paliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga, described the ZANU PF draft as “outrageous” and defying any logic.

“There is no doubt those proposals are an indication that they don’t want a new constitution. The agreed draft was produced after lengthy and intensive negotiations. For ZANU PF to come up with this position is inexplicable. Nobody in their right sense would do this,” Matinenga told SW Radio Africa.

He said the ZANU PF proposals ignore the millions of dollars that were spent on the Constitutional outreach process and the compromises people were willing to make to get to a referendum. But Matinenga said he believes common sense will prevail and ZANU PF will eventually agree to continue with the original draft.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is also MDC-T secretary general, had harsh words in response to ZANU PF’s revisions. Writing on Facebook Biti ridiculed the counter proposals.

He wrote: “I cannot believe that a group of men and women ,many of whom fought in our war of liberation, can assault and insult the ideas of decency, equality, justice and democracy that all modern societies should be founded upon.”

He added that the fact ZANU PF can “unashamedly insult Zimbabweans this way is a case for allowing Zimbabweans to vote on the two drafts in a referendum, so that the we can go to an early election to deal with this aberration.”

The MDC formations had already adopted the draft agreed to by negotiators representing the political parties, including ZANU PF, and made it clear negotiations were closed.

Ironically, the draft they agreed to is also being criticized by civic groups and Zimbabweans who say it does not go far enough in reducing the powers of the president and reforming key democratic institutions. They say several issues, including the Diaspora vote, devolution, dual citizenship, media and security sector reforms, were not addressed.

Ultimately ZANU PF has never respected the current constitution or ruled according to its provisions. It is widely accepted that they will ignore whatever version of the constitution Zimbabweans vote for, and continue to rule through the element of fear. SW Radio Africa

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