BY JENNIFER DUBE
THE current draft constitution produced by the Constitution Select Committee (Copac) is “racist” especially in dealing with the issue of land, analysts have said. After three years of grappling and several missed deadlines, Copac finally produced a consolidated draft constitution in July, which analysts said had serious flaws in some sections.
The analysts have expressed concern that the draft, which has so far been distributed to the principals in the coalition government and parliament, failed to bury historical racial differences especially in sections on land.
Renowned author and lawyer, Petina Gappah said the way the draft constitution deals with the land question was awkward and clumsy.
“It puts Zimbabweans in three categories — indigenous, non-indigenous and foreigners — and this is built-in discrimination,” she said.
Gappah said she was sympathetic to the idea of addressing historical imbalances but “I don’t think that the best way to deal with it is to build in discrimination for all time. I believe there is a better way we could have used to deal with the land issue.”
The draft makes it clear that compensation for the value of land would only be availed to indigenous Zimbabweans and foreigners protected under bilateral investment treaties.
Non-indigenous Zimbabweans, it says, would only be compensated for improvements on the land.
Copac co-chair, Edward Mkhosi (MDC) clarified that non-indigenous means white but was quick to shift the blame on Zanu PF.
“We tried to ensure that such discrimination does not find its way into the constitution but we failed. We tried,” Mkhosi said.
“We have nothing against anybody but Zanu PF is angry because they say whites support MDC so anything white is evil to them. They are openly hostile towards whites.”
Mkhosi said other Copac members compromised seeing there was no point in abandoning the constitution project simply because of one party’s insistence on that single issue.
He urged Zimbabweans to endorse the document for the sake of the oncoming elections.
It is positive discrimination, says Mangwana
Copac co-chair Paul Mangwana of Zanu PF said the discrimination was done consciously as it was necessary.
“Do you know something called positive discrimination? That is what we are doing and it is necessary discrimination done consciously to address wrongs which were done,” Mangwana said. “When correcting wrong things, you have to discriminate just like we do between boys and girls in affirmative action where you lower requirements for girls so you improve their participation.”
Mangwana said there was need to understand the context within which the law was being made as only four percent of the population owned 90% of the land in the country.