HomeLocalZanu PF trying to influence constitution drafters—MDC-T

Zanu PF trying to influence constitution drafters—MDC-T

Zanu PF hawks are calling for the sacking of the three drafters, accusing them of “sneaking” clauses which, among many other things, seek to bar President Robert Mugabe from contesting elections.

But the other two coalition partners argue the work of the drafters was above board and highly professional, dismissing the vitriol against them as attempts to intimidate and influence them.

MDC-T Copac co-chairman, Douglas Mwonzora said it was surprising that Zanu PF was publicly attacking the drafters, yet it was the same party which proposed the three; Justice Moses Chinhengo, Priscilla Madzonga and Brian Crozier.

“The drafters have exhibited high levels of professionalism,” Mwonzora said. “Maybe Zanu PF thought that since it had proposed them, then automatically they should be partisan.”

He added that MDC-T accepted them because they were lawyers of integrity and with vast experience in drafting legislation including the rejected 2000 draft constitution.

But Zanu PF’s Copac co-chairperson, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said all the three coalition parties made an input in the selection of the drafters. “The names were proposed by all three parties,” he said. “I am however not going to discuss their work, mandate and my association with them because this is confidential principal (employer) and agent (worker) relationship,” he said.

Edward Mkhosi, who is the Copac co-chairperson from the Welshman Ncube-led MDC formation, said the Copac management committee had the final say in the appointment of the drafters following the usual Global Political Agreement negotiation processes.

“The drafters are currently not working, but they will soon be recalled to complete the process they started,” he said. “Copac has faith in them and no new drafters will be appointed.”

Zanu PF spin doctors including Politburo member Jonathan Moyo and Goodson Nguni have called for the appointment of new drafters, accusing the current ones of “drifting” from their mandate and failing to stick to the national report.

But Mwonzora said such criticism was premised on false information. “Criticism is emanating from their (Zanu PF) political analysts, most of whom are not legally qualified,” he said. “They have been unable to legally interpret key provisions of the constitution such as appreciating that a constitution does not operate in reverse.”

The Standard tried to speak to Crozier about the current drafting process and his experience, but he referred questions to Copac. “As a lawyer I am not allowed to talk about my work or reveal certain client information,” he said.

Other drafters could not be reached for comment. However, documents from Copac show that the three drafters have a wealth of experience and expertise in constitution-making.


The Drafters’ profiles


Justice Moses Chinhengo holds qualifications in legislative drafting and is a renowned constitutional expert.  He is currently a High Court judge in Botswana, and has worked in the same capacity in Zimbabwe. Chinhengo was admitted to the bar in 1985 and has worked as a chief law officer in the Legislative Drafting Department in the Ministry of Justice.  He has also worked as an attorney.

Priscilla Madzonga has worked in the Attorney General’s Office as chief legal draftsman in the department responsible for drafting of all legislation for Zimbabwe.  She was responsible for the training of new draftsmen and also provided legal advice to government departments.  Madzonga has also worked as a law officer and is a member of the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Drafters.  She is currently a lawyer in private practice and has over 20 years experience.

Brian Crozier is a University of Zimbabwe law lecturer and private legal consultant. He is a renowned constitutional lawyer and seasoned legislative drafter and trainer and has served as a director of legal drafting in government.

Crozier also worked in the Attorney General’s Office where he gave advice to government departments. He has also worked as a prosecutor and attorney of the High Court.


The bone of contention


A clause in the draft states that a person is disqualified for election as President if he or she has already held office for one or more periods, whether continuous or not, amounting to 10 years. This means that 88-year-old Mugabe would automatically be ineligible.

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