DYNAMICS OF CONSTITUTION MAKING

john_makumbe_familyThe pace at which the constitution making process is taking place is far too slow to meet the Global Political Agreement (GPA) deadlines.

It is unlikely that the new constitution draft will be ready for consideration in a referendum by July or August this year. There are basically two main camps in Zimbabwe in relation to desirability or otherwise of a new and democratic constitution. First, there are those who want to see a new and democratic constitution, namely, the MDC-T, MDC-M, progressive civil society, and the generality of the people of Zimbabwe. Then there are those that wish the process to fail so that the nation will maintain the status quo. These include ZanuPF, selected civic groups, and some ZanuPF PPONGOs (i.e. political party owned NGOs).

The outreach teams set up by COPAC have since been infiltrated by self-appointed ZanuPF enumerators and rappoteurs with the objective of influencing the content of the draft constitution in favour of the dubious Kariba draft. Fortunately all the three political parties in the GNU have agreed that the Kariba draft shall not be insisted upon as the reference document. Some ZanuPF hoodlums have not yet received that information. For example, some military details are already actively campaigning in some rural areas urging people to insist on the Kariba draft, and that Mugabe must remain President until 2020, regardless of whether he will be dead or alive.

There is the real danger that consultative meetings in some rural and urban areas could turn out to be violent. The three principals to the GPA are as yet to address the nation condemning violence and urging people to be peaceful during the outreach meetings. This needs to be done urgently. Further, there is still extreme polarization of the Zimbabwe society; it will be very difficult to agree on key constitutional issues. Controversies surround such issues as land reform, the death penalty, and executive tenure of office, electoral systems, single or twin chamber legislatures, and the role of traditional leaders in governance. Some of the participants in the constitution making process view it as a gravy train. They are in it to make easy money. This must be avoided at all cost.

In spite of the critical role played by the media in any constitution making process, there is still no viable non-partisan media environment in Zimbabwe. Information on the constitution making process is scanty, and most rural based people have no idea of what is going on. Apparently, the brain damaged ZBC is demanding that Copac should pay for all adverts before it can run them. Yes, even state structures are desperate to make money out of the constitution making process. The commissioner-general of the police has reportedly demanded $3 million before he can assign a thousand police officers to the process. Needless to say the officers so assigned will not smell any of that money since it will disappear mysteriously well before the process is underway.

No healing, reconciliation or reintegration has occurred to date in Zimbabwe. The nation is still woefully mindful of the political violence and human rights violations of the past. The culture of impunity has still not been uprooted from Zimbabwe. This may seriously cripple the constitution making process. At some of the consultative meetings, both the victims and the perpetrators of the 2008 political violence will be present and expected to participate. Chances are that most of the victims will choose to remain silent rather than risk further victimization as a result of whatever they will have said. Finally, there are no known mechanisms announced to enable Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to participate in the constitution making process. Most of these people left Zimbabwe because of an unhealthy political situation, and they must be accorded an opportunity to participate in this historic process.

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