New Constitution: how do we avoid chaos?

Zanu (PF) has finally agreed that the Copac draft of the proposed constitution can proceed to the Second All Stakeholders Conference scheduled for October 4-6.

Most sane Zimbabweans are asking themselves, has the former ruling party finally seen the light? They are also wondering whether that party has sincerely turned the corner and repented from the use of violence for its political ends.

It is strongly suspected that the Conference will be used as a vehicle for up-staging the Copac draft and forcing the adoption of the 266 amendments made to that draft by Zanu (PF). Preparations are now being made to ensure that the Conference will be a success, and that the views of the people of this country will be demonstrated to have been adequately captured in the Copac draft.

Article VI of the Global Political Agreement does not specify what is to be done at the forthcoming Conference, except to state that the agreed draft constitution will be tabled.

It is not clear whether the Conference will have the power or mandate to amend the Copac draft, or to make recommendations to the Parliamentary Select Committee in relation to some of the clauses in the draft. This is where the real danger lies. The agenda of the Conference, likely to be held in the City of Kings, Bulawayo, will have to be carefully thought out and agreed by all the political parties in Copac well in advance. An agenda that will allow the discussion of every little clause is likely to result in total chaos.

It is unlikely that there could be even a single clause on which all the delegates agree just like that. It must be accepted that the Copac draft is a result of numerous meetings among the three political parties. Most of the compromises that needed to be made have already been made. An agenda that will seek to re-open negotiations is very likely to result in the failure of the Conference to be conclusive.

Zanu (PF) is pleased that the so-called national statistical report will also be made available at the Conference.

The assumption is that the report will highlight what the people said but was left out of the Copac draft. It is often forgotten that what the people said is contained in several other documents that are not the statistical report. Numerous written submissions were made to Copac by civic groups, professional bodies, churches, businesses and people in the Diaspora.

All these constitute what the people said. They were all used in drawing up the Copac draft, but they are not necessarily reflected in the statistical report. What will be even more interesting will be to examine the 266 amendments that Zanu (PF) would like included in order to find out whether these issues were endorsed by the people. A brief audit of the Zanu (PF) draft clearly indicates that most of the 266 changes have come from that party and not from the people at all.

It is my hope and expectation that the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference will not degenerate into a dubious numbers game. The constitution-making process has reached the make-or-break stage. The Conference will enable us to know who the real enemies of democratic progress in Zimbabwe are.

The Sadc will not take kindly to any group that will seek to derail this noble process simply for partisan ends. The true colours of the players will be exposed when this Conference gets underway. [email protected]

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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