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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 8
Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
October 10, 2011
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Driven NOT Political Parties’ Constitution
the political parties which have taken custody of the constitution
making process, have shown that stakes are so high and they
are not prepared to have the people’s views prevails if the
circumstances around the firing of Zanu PF’s chairperson of
the Stakeholders' Committee, Edward Chindori-Chininga is anything
to go by. Chindori-Chininga was fired last week under very unclear
circumstances. There are two versions to his firing. One is that
he is alleged to have clashed with the COPAC co-chairman, Munyaradzi
Paul Mangwana over a number of issues including misleading Zanu
PF on the progress of the constitution making process. It is also
alleged that Chindori- Chininga was accused of leaking a Zanu PF
prepared draft constitution to the MDC. This, it is alleged did
not go down well with his party. While debate is on the circumstances
around the firing of Chindori-Chininga, the Thursday event serves
to show us that the stakes are high with regards to the final document
and parties are likely to adopt a bare knuckle approach. While the
other political parties have somehow remained beaten objective and
ambivalent, Zanu PF has been abundantly clear on its intentions
on the constitution. This approach is likely to dent the credibility
of the constitution. A reflection on how the process has been handled
since the first stakeholders meeting shows a pattern of trying to
influence the outcome. One remembers the dancing party supporters
at the first stakeholders meeting. Then there was the issue of coaching
the supporters on what to say about the constitution.
There is nothing
wrong with mobilizing supporters to have your views prevail but
this is different from coaching. Coaching and a threat of sanctions
for those who choose otherwise is a clear manipulation of the process.
It is also important to mention that the other party in the tripartite
constitution making, MDC-N has made it clear that the final document
would be negotiated. The people of Zimbabwe need to further probe
what this means and how this is feasible against the background
of the people’s participation in the outreach programme. The
three parties have also been vacillating on what actually should
be done. The shadow of the 2000 draft constitution remains cast
on the current process with the Kariba
draft also ghosting around. These two documents could be marvelous
but they go against the grain of the people’s expectation.
People expected a new process as espoused in the GPA.
Why would they be asked to participate in a constitution making
process twice within 12 years if the 2000 draft only needed to be
dusted and made into the supreme law. The lesson learnt with the
current process is that the constitution making process should not
be taken by Parliament.
This should be taken by, say a commission, constituted by personnel
agreeable to the three political parties and in consultation with
the civic society. MPs can be commissioners but there is need to
involve other players. This process would then be monitored by the
civil society and the political parties. As it stands, the constitution
making process could be discredited by its own processes and the
struggle for party views, not people’s views to prevail.
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