The Youth Forum was reliably informed by its sources during the late hours of Wednesday (May 11) that serious disagreements had emerged at the thematic committee drafting meetings where political party representatives under the banner of Copac were analysing data gathered during the consultative outreach meetings.
The major disagreement was over whether Copac should use a qualitative or quantitative approach in considering data for the draft. Using a quantitative analysis implies going according to what the majority of people who attended and spoke at the outreach meetings had to say.
On the other hand, the qualitative approach also takes into account what the minority said during the outreach meetings, with a balance being struck between the majority and minority. According to Copac co-chair Douglas Mwonzora, the management committee had agreed and recommended that the drafters use the qualitative approach. However, in a sensational about-turn on this agreement, Zanu PF was suddenly advocating for the quantitative method.
The Youth Forum views this latest bickering as another show of insincerity on the part of political parties in resolving the political impasse that has stalled general progress in the country. It also further exposes the real machinations behind the Copac project, which has clearly become a money-making project for some, at the expense of genuine constitutional reform to take the country forward.
The implications of the latest impasse point to serious flaws in the Copac process and supports assertions by the NCA, ZCTU, students and other right-thinking Zimbabweans that the writing of the country’s supreme law should be led by an independent body and not political parties. While they (political parties) should also contribute to the process, they should not lead it. The reason is simple enough — political parties have got narrow political interests to protect and they will go to great lengths to protect their interests — even if this implies negating the interests of the general citizenry as is clearly happening with Zanu PF now.
The Youth Forum contends to this day that the outreach phase of the Copac process resembled more of a gruelling political campaign at the expense of genuine debate and discussions for coming up with a constitution. Many observers and stakeholders, including Copac, reported of large-scale intimidation and violence in the run-up to the outreach meetings. The majority of those that contributed at these meetings were “coached” on the political party positions that they were to contribute. The majority of the neutrals were intimidated into being mere spectators of the process, their role being only to inflate the numbers in attendance and falsely qualify the process as “people-driven”.
The fact that the MDC played second fiddle to Zanu PF during this gruelling “campaign for positions” under the guise of constitution-making should be a lesson to them that they should not compromise their principles in future when it comes to critical national processes. They have only themselves to blame for the mess that they have dragged the country into.
We implore the political parties that make up Copac to put aside their differences and for once work towards the good of the country in resolving this issue. The political parties should not abuse the goodwill shown by the donor community in pumping millions of dollars towards a project they are sceptical of.
They should also stop taking the people of Zimbabwe for granted and not hold the nation to ransom over their petty differences. We also urge Sadc and the AU to continue tightening the screws on the political parties so that we see an end to what has now come to be known as the “Zimbabwe crisis” once and for all.