THE constitution-making process has ground to a halt because of disagreements, infighting and a lack of funds.
Munyaradzi Mangwana, co-chairperson of the parliamentary select committee, which is spearheading the process, told the Zimbabwe IndependentÂ that the constitution may not be completed until 2013.
In an exclusive interview, Mangwana, a Zanu PF legislator, said the delay was partly due to a battle over control of the process between the parliamentary select committee and constitutional affairs minister, Eric Matinenga.
Mangwana said that the process, which was initially expected to finish within 18 months from the setting up of the 25-member select committee in April, was also hamstrung by a serious lack of funds.
“All I can promise is that the process will be completed by 2013 – that is when the next elections are supposed to be held. At the moment, I don’t see us finishing within 18 or 24 months because of financial constraints,” the former cabinet minister said.
He explained the inclusive government was failing to raise US$9 million required for its outreach programmes and other consultations.
Government has written to the European Union, USAid, UNDP and donor countries like Germany and Sweden seeking financial aid for the process. Only UNDP has responded with US$2 million.
“We have no cars, no offices and we use our personal phones,” Mangwana said. “We need 150 vehicles. We sent our budget to the Ministry of Finance and are awaiting their response. We understand what the economy is going through and that government has no money.”
In addition, Mangwana said the political parties were still in disagreement about using the Kariba draft constitution as the basis for the process and negotiations were still ongoing.
While Zanu PF wants to use it, the Tsvangirai-led MDC is insisting that the process should be driven by the people with the Kariba draft constitution used as a reference point, like the NCA draft, the Lancaster House constitution and the rejected 2000 draft constitution.
Matinenga, an MDC-T legislator, argued that the Global Political Agreement (GPA) does not state that the Kariba draft constitution is the founding document for the process but clearly says that the constitution should be owned and driven by the people.
He said it was up to the principals to resolve the matter and the longer they took to discuss and conclude the issue, the more difficult it would be to meet the 18-month deadline.
Matinenga pointed out there was a need to make the process more efficient in order to avoid the disruption by some Zanu PF members at the first stakeholders meeting in July.
“The three principals, as the leaders of the political parties, must sit down and discuss what needs to be done to make the process more efficient. We want a process that is efficient and which does not negate a people-driven constitution,” he said.
MDC-T secretary-general and chief-negotiator Tendai Biti said the government was planning to look into how the constitution-making process should proceed.
“It is clear that people should write their constitution The problem at the moment is the impasse on the process and lack of leadership,” Biti said. “There is a kwashiorkor of leadership in this process and that must be dealt with.”
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara is on record saying the GPA, that gave birth to the unity government, was silent on when fresh polls would be held in the country. He said if the inclusive government works well there would be no reason for elections in the near future.
Some senior Zanu PF officials who lost the last elections said they would launch a massive campaign for elections to be held by 2011.
One politburo member said: “These people from all the parties are now enjoying power and don’t want to let go. When the time comes, we will lobby and campaign for elections to be held as soon as the constitution-making process is completed.”
Asked if delaying the process was a deliberate move to extend the inclusive government’s lifespan to a full five-year term, Mangwana said it was unfair to cut short parliamentarians’ five-year term in office.
He said the country should allow for national healing, economic recovery and take note that elections were the main cause of violence in the country.
Already there is talk by the three political parties of extending the one-year moratorium on by-elections by three years.
The moratorium, which lapses on September 15, stops Zanu PF and the two MDC formations from fielding candidates against each other for a year, stipulating that only the party that previously held the seat could field a candidate.