It appears as if the responsible authorities for this project already have a document they want, but the most worrying aspect is to call that exercise people-driven.
In 2005, President Mugabe once described the Lancaster House Constitution as home- grown and sacrosanct.
However the so-called “homegrown and sacrosanct” constitution had to be amended a world-record of 19 times.
At a public lecture with trainee journalists in Harare last year, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, a firebrand constitutional law expert lamented Copac’s professed ignorance on proper procedure of writing a constitution. Professor Madhuku defined a constitution in the best simplest terms: a document that defines how a country should be governed.
In this regard we may ask ourselves whether the current process determines the way we and future generations will be governed. In other words, a constitution is not in any way a product of legal genius, it is just a document that seeks to depict the values, norms, and beliefs of a country and how best such may be safeguarded today and tomorrow. It should be an answer to any prevailing generational crisis.
The constitution-making process by the Copac leaves a lot to be desired. The mistake from the onset was to engage political parties who formed the “shaky” coalition government to decide upon the destiny of the country.
The process is being undertaken by the gate-keepers who will ensure that at the end of the day interest of their masters will be protected. In such a case one would point to the fact that the process is segregatory in nature as it is exclusive of other political parties outside government as well as other groups. Exclusion of other minority groups or political parties negates the aspect of a people- driven process. The Copac-led constitution is far from being people-driven.
We only hear of Copac when it is in need of money, or when legislators are threatening to boycott the exercise because they have not been paid. A people-driven process of constitution writing does not necessarily mean hordesof people have to gather to conduct that exercise.
Again politicians may not be allowed to dominate in such a process. It should be put in place by a collective group of people who are independent of the politics of the day, who do not have any interest to protect nor sideline at the end of the day.
If it goes unchecked, the current process will produce a document far short of the constitutional expectations or one that is even worse than the Lancaster House Constitution. The other dilemma that the country will be faced with is that the current process is going to be hijacked by both Zanu PF and MDC to flex their muscles on each other and prove the other who is capable of influencing public opinion more than the other.
In 2000 the Chidyausiku Constitution faced a major rejection from an ill-informed people who voted against it without properly comprehending the contents. Most of the people did not know why they were voting No.
The popular “No” vote engineered by the NCA was used more as a political barometer to measure MDC’s election readiness one year after its insurrection as a political party ahead of the general election that was scheduled for June 2000.
What was supposed to be a national consensus became an MDC consensus and this reversed the country’s early attempts to author its own constitution.
All the three parties in the Inclusive Government should have known from the start that article six of the Global Political Agreement stipulated the “acknowledging that it is the fundamental right and duty of the Zimbabwean people to make a constitution by themselves and for themselves.”
This clause did not literally mean that only Zanu PF and the two MDC formations had an explicit right to craft the constitution. Other sectors of the society were supposed to be represented by the civil society.
However, MDC’s continued mistake was its blind belief that its presence automatically meant the representation of all Zimbabweans who were anti-Zanu PF and more directly who were anti-Mugabe.
That is a hallucination and fallacy that the MDC formations need to urgently readdress.