Constitution Watch of 20th September 2012

Is the Constitution-Making Deadlock Loosening?

The Deadlock

A deadlock in the constitution-making process was reported to President Zuma on his visit to Harare on 15th August, just before the SADC Summit in Maputo. President Zuma, in turn, reported the differences between ZANU-PF and the MDCs in his report to the Summit. Although, in its communiqué of 18th August, the SADC Summit urged the parties to work together on the constitution, a deadlock on the parties’ opposing stances was again reported to the visiting South African facilitation team on 29th August.

MDCs said the COPAC draft was the final and only draft and that they would not entertain alterations to it; and wanted to refer the matter to the new chairperson of the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President Kikwete of Tanzania, and the facilitator, President Zuma – in other words, to invoke the 18th August Maputo Summit resolution requiring SADC intervention to assist in resolving “any difficulties” over the constitution.

ZANU-PF refused to accept the MDC positions that the draft was final and could not be changed. They were insisting that ZANU-PF’s proposed changes to the COPAC draft should be considered at the level of the party principals, who had yet to meet and discuss the draft. They denied there was a deadlock and refused to participate in a referral to the SADC Organ.

Deadlock Hardened by Subsequent Party Actions


Both MDCs wrote letters to Presidents Mugabe, Zuma and Kikwete

On 30th August Mr Tsvangirai sent a letter to President Mugabe, copied to Presidents Zuma and Kikwete, setting out the MDC-T position and stating that the COPAC draft had been agreed and that the there was no role for the principals to discuss changes to the finalised draft. Professor Ncube sent a similar letter to President Mugabe and the other Presidents.

MDC-T launched campaign for a YES Vote on the COPAC draft

On Saturday 8th September Mr Tsvangirai went ahead as earlier promised and launched the MDC-T’s promised Vote YES campaign for the COPAC draft. The MDC also announced an immediate campaign in support of the COPAC draft.

ZANU-PF continued to insist that their proposed changes to the COPAC draft should be considered at the level of the party principals despite the fact the principals’ meeting was constantly postponed.

Principals’ Meetings Repeatedly Aborted

In fact there were no principals’ meetings until today. The principals usually meet on Mondays and were therefore expected to meet on Monday 20th August, shortly after returning from the SADC Summit. They did not meet. Again, there was no principals’ meeting on Monday 27th August; because the President was away all that week for the NAM Summit in Teheran. Nor was there a meeting on 3rd September; Mr Tsvangirai was out of the country to attend the Democratic Party’s National Convention in the United States. Although President Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai and Professor Mutambara met on Monday 10th September. Professor Ncube was not invited to the meeting and there was no discussion of the constitutional logjam. On 11th September Mr Tsvangirai and Professor Ncube, on standby after that day’s Cabinet meeting at President Mugabe’s request, waited for a GPA party leaders’ meeting. They were then told the meeting had been rescheduled to a date and time to be notified. Instead the President met Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, ZANU-PF’s lead GPA negotiator, and Minister of Defence Mnangagwa, ZANU-PF’s secretary for legal affairs.

This Wednesday 19th September the President, Mr Tsvangirai and Professor Mutambara eventually met – Professor Ncube having excused himself to attend to his mother, who is ill. There has only been a Herald report on this meeting, but the MDCs’ perspective is awaited.

On Wednesday evening President Mugabe left the country to attend the UN General Assembly annual meeting in New York.

Nevertheless there has been some shifting in two of the parties’ previously “adamant” positions.

ZANU-PF Shifts its Ground

ZANU-PF’s new stance After a meeting of the ZANU-PF Politburo on Wednesday 12th September, a new but conditional ZANU-PF position emerged: The COPAC draft may go to the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference IF

• COPAC’s National Statistical Report on the Outreach is printed and taken to the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference together with the COPAC draft – so that everyone can have a copy to compare with the COPAC draft

• ZANU-PF will take its amendments to the Conference.

In statements to reporters party spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed that the party principals had not deliberated on the draft to find consensus rather than deadlock, and explained: “We have said as a party that we will go to the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference with the COPAC draft, but the national report should be printed before the stakeholders conference so that everyone can have a copy and compare it with the COPAC draft. We are saying the new Constitution should fully take into account the issues that we raised. If the MDC formations endorse the draft as it is, we will ask the people who will be present to compare with the national report. We will go to the All Stakeholders’ Conference with our amendments.”

ZANU-PF actions to strengthen this position

Court application demanding National Statistical Report

On 13th September it was confirmed that the Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations and its chairperson, ZANU-PF’s Goodson Nguni, had lodged an application against COPAC in the Supreme Court seeking an order compelling COPAC co-chairs to make its National Statistical Report available to the public.

Mobilising the party apparatus in support of ZANU-PF’s proposed amendments

On 14th September ZANU-PF political commissars from all regions of the country met for what party spokesman Gumbo described as “a mobilisation workshop where we told them what to do and how to present the party position at the All Stakeholders Conference”.

MDC-T Shifting its Ground

MDC-T still says that only the COPAC draft can go forward to the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference and should not be changed by the principals. But from saying it is the final draft and that they would not entertain alterations to it, MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora – also a COPAC co-chair – has now said that changes to the draft can be made at the Conference: “By its very nature the Second All Stakeholders Conference can make far-reaching changes to the draft.” He did however, reject the ZANU-PF suggestion that National Statistical Report on the outreach must be presented to the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference to be used to assess the COPAC draft. He stressed that, contrary to what people have been led to believe, the statistical report does not reveal what the majority and minority views on particular issues were.

At the same time as easing its stance on changes to the draft, MDC-T has expressed fears that a faction of ZANU PF is planning to disrupt the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference by causing “chaos and mayhem” at the Conference, and said that SADC, the African Union and the international community must supervise and monitor the Conference.

MDC Not Shifting its Ground

According to party spokesperson Qhubani Moyo, the MDC led by Professor Ncube has not changed its stance that the COPAC draft was the final and only draft and that they would not entertain alterations to it. They see the purpose of the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference as being to enable the COPAC to table its draft constitution, as required by Article 6 of the GPA, and to explain and clarify it to participants and answer their questions – not a forum for the continuation of the drafting process or making changes to the draft.

Is the Ball Back in COPAC’s Court?

Will COPAC go ahead with the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference under ZANU-PF’s conditions? COPAC will be meeting to decide what to do. Much will hinge on the Select Committee meeting scheduled for today.

Or Will it Go to SADC?

SADC Organ Troika announces meeting on Zimbabwe for 7th – 8th October

On 4th September the chairperson of the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President Kikwete of Tanzania, said there would be a special Summit of the Organ Troika on 7th and 8th October at which developments in Zimbabwe and Madagascar would be discussed. The announcement came in Dares Salaam at the end of a special meeting of the Troika called to discuss the situation in the Eastern DRC. President Zuma did not attend the meeting, nor did members of his facilitation team. The official communiqué’s only reference to Zimbabwe was the statement that the Troika Summit “agreed to convene again soon to deliberate on the developments in Madagascar and Zimbabwe”

Post published in: Politics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *