ZANU PF is still to submit a list of chairpersons for the constitutional thematic committees, a move which is seen as a deliberate effort to further delay the constitution-making process.
The parliamentary select committee on the constitution has had to postpone seven times the announcement of 17 chairpersons for the thematic committees because Zanu PF factions are fighting over control of the process.
MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday bemoaned deliberate moves to delay the constitution-making process, which was supposed to be completed in 18 months from April this year.
“Equally problematic is the deliberately slow pace of progress on the implementation of key issues connected to human rights and the rule of law.
This includes the self-evidently deliberate stalement on the constitutional reform process, as well as the slow pace of media reform,” said Tsvangirai at a press conference marking the first anniversary of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed last September.
Impeccable sources in Zanu PF have revealed that the selection of chairpersons has been hampered by factionalism in the party, with all the factions trying to make sure that they have more people chairing the committees. There are three camps in Zanu PF – one with President Robert Mugabe’s loyalists and the other two battling for succession led by retired army general Solomon Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“People were chosen at a caucus meeting democratically, but that process has been spurned by some senior officials. The factions are fighting over control of the process, so we just have to wait and see who wins in the end,” said the official.
MDC-T co-chairperson of the select committee Douglas Mwonzora confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that the names that had initially been submitted were withdrawn by the Zanu PF politburo.
He said Zanu PF has had its deadline extended three times now – first to August 21 and then to Wednesday and now to today.
Mwonzora said Zanu PF’s co-chairperson Paul Mangwana has promised to submit the list next week.
The chairmanships of the 17 thematic committees have been shared between the three political parties represented in parliament, Zanu PF and the two MDC formations as well as traditional leaders.
Zanu PF and MDC-T would each chair seven committees, while the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC will chair two and one traditional leader will chair the remaining committee.
“It is now the seventh time that we have had to postpone the announcement of the chairpersons because names from Zanu PF have not come. They have been giving a number of explanations for the delay,” Mwonzora said. “Political parties must realise that they are not alone in the project and they must be seen to be taking their colleagues seriously. It is important that we move together in this project as Zimbabweans,” he said.
Mwonzora said even though they had completed their work plan, they were unable to proceed because of lack of funds.
They need US$4,2 million for the outreach programmes and this includes funds to hire 165 cars for select committee members and 860 teams across the country.
Government has only disbursed US$350 000, which was used for the stakeholders’ conference in July.
“Regarding the support of government in the provision of resources, the select committee is extremely unhappy. Firstly, there is no clear provision in the budget for the select committee to work and secondly, we have not received any material support from central government,” Mwonzora said. “It is important to note that the select committee regards government as its principal funder and provider of material resources. Where the government finds money is entirely up to it, but it should not ask the select committee to indirectly fund the project.”
Through the provision of funds, Mwonzora said the government would allow the committee to meet the timelines outlined in the GPA.
Citing budgetary constraints and disagreements among the parties, Mangwana has said the process might end in 2013, in time for the general elections.
Turning to the sticky Kariba draft as a basis for the constitution-making process, Mwonzora said they have devised a way around it.
“Kariba draft is not an issue in the outreach programme. We are agreed that the outreach programme must not be converted into a referendum over the Kariba draft. We are working on a questionnaire or talking points to get objective responses. It is undesirable for us to reveal the source of these questions,” he said.
Mwonzora pointed out that they would not be discussing the reasons they chose that particular source to come up with the questions.
He, however, said the three principals were free to interrogate the select committee on the route they have chosen.
Mwonzora said there was need for a clear reporting structure for the select committee because the GPA is silent on who they should report to.
“Granted that the select committee is coming from parliament, it is answerable to the parliament administration headed by the Speaker. But given its creation, the select committee must be treated as a committee sui generis, which must inevitably interface with the principals,” he said.