THE chaos which rocked the constitutional All-Stakeholders Conference on Monday was regrettable but instructive.
It revealed fundamental problems besetting the current controversial constitution-making process which those calling for an inclusive, transparent and participatory approach have been pointing out.
There are all sorts of problems dogging this process which organisers and their parochial political handlers are trying to sweep under the carpet. By so doing they hope to hide the evident fatal flaws of the process, yet still expect to produce a good constitution for the country. This is not possible. A wrong method cannot lead to a correct answer. This is the essence of logic.
It is very clear the pandemonium on Monday was politically engineered. Politicians, in this case from Zanu PF, arrived at the conference with a not-so-hidden agenda to disrupt proceedings and stall the project. They simply want to sabotage the entire constitutional initiative and prevent free and fair elections in the short to medium term.
There is no price for reading through these daft shenanigans by politicians who are extremely scared of elections. It’s an unmistakable political and power-retention computation.
The mayhem exposed the naked truth that the current constitution-making process is a theatre for political manoeuvring and contestation. This is now overshadowing the main objective of this initiative: to write a new and rock-solid constitution for the country and for generations without political interference and manipulation.
After the anarchy, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara held a meeting and appeared on ZTV condemning the chaos which rocked the conference. Calm returned on Tuesday. This actually proved that it was a political issue. The hooligans froze their operations after their leader had spoken. This is where we have a problem.
There can be no gainsaying that this constitution-making process is not only controlled and stage-managed by politicians, but it is their pet project. Why people expect a healthy outcome out of a poisoned project beats logic.
This constitution-making process is not people-initiated, let alone driven. It was engineered in dark rooms and water-borne negotiations by Zanu PF and the two MDC factions. It remains their business and project. They will only allow in people so long as they won’t have control to change the outcome. They had agreed to impose the shoddy Kariba draft, but they are now fighting among themselves after realising their sinister conspiracy against the people had been exposed and would politically backfire. That is the plot of this soap opera.
That is why it is important for Zimbabweans to demand an open, inclusive, participatory and democratic process, not this partisan, opaque and rather fraudulent exercise. Why is it difficult for these political parties to open the process to public and democratic participation and control? At the moment the process is closed and managed by MPs who represent and symbolise manifest vested political interests.
It is not too late for politicians to realise that insisting on a self-serving process will take us nowhere. What is simply needed is for the party-political leaders to meet and agree that the process should be changed before forging ahead. We know they won’t agree because of their competing agendas and that provides further proof they are pursuing their own narrow interests, not a people-driven and democratic constitution.
Let’s engage in frank talk. Zanu PF simply does not want this process to succeed because it fears free and fair elections. The MDC-T wants it to succeed on its own terms so that it can stand a good chance of winning the elections. MDC-M is timid about it because they are also scared of elections.
So the interests are clear and the reason why the parties don’t want to quit this idea of a parliamentary select committee running the show is that they are in charge to protect their bigoted agendas.
It is surprising to find some civil society groups collaborating in a flawed process when there is no need to because the charade is going nowhere.
Why taint themselves with such a contaminated process? The answer can only lie in their partisan political affiliations and the agenda of the funders.
Civil society organisations must learn that operating like political hacks and errand boys for political parties does not help us to democratise the country.
Here is a good opportunity to come up with a credible constitutional reform process and constitution being sacrificed on the altar of parochial political agendas. In the end, who benefits from this sort of approach and where do we find ourselves as a country and society after those agendas have been pushed through or shoved down our throats?Â Â Â Â
Let’s be clear about this: we need an open, inclusive, participatory and democratic approach to produce a credible and legitimate constitution, not this partisan and tainted process.Â Â Â Â Â