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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 8
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
October 10, 2011

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People Driven NOT Political Parties’ Constitution

Once again, 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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