Almost two years beyond its initially set deadline, the constitution-making process has tottered from one crisis to the other, encountered numerous hurdles, including at one time a crippling shortage of funds due to waning donor support and confidence in the process. As it stands, Copac has since delivered what it has termed the first consolidated draft constitution to the “management committee” although with “parked issues”.
It is still not clear who is to decide on these parked issues before the draft constitution can be brought to parliament and eventually to a referendum. What is clear is that it is no longer relevant what the people might have or might not have said during the chaotic outreach meetings conducted by Copac, but that the discretion now lies with a few party representatives to agree and decide on what they will present in the form of a draft constitution to a referendum. Talk about a people-driven constitution!
However, after reading the draft, one is struck by the glaring similarities between it and the current constitution, especially with regards to the powers that remain vested in the proposed executive presidency, itself singled out as one of the key factors behind the governance crisis gripping the country. Simply, too much power is vested in one individual, itself a very undemocratic practice that is a slap in the face of participatory democracy. The same crisis is certainly behind the infighting in Zanu PF driven by the succession issue and is the main reason why they cannot discuss leadership renewal among themselves. This is now manifesting in the serious infighting and violence that has characterised the district coordinating committee elections and the current restructuring exercise.
There is certainly no need and it defies logic in this day and age to concentrate so much power in an individual in any government or political power structure for that matter. In no way should any individual from the executive arm of State be above and beyond reproach of the other two arms of State – the legislature and the judiciary. No democracy can work under such ludicrous conditions, and most certainly such an arrangement cannot support a free and fair election, especially one in which the incumbent participates.
Many of the provisions in the draft constitution in circulation gravely exposes the two MDC formations as not being genuine in their self-proclaimed mandate as the leaders of democratic change and reform in the country. Even as we acknowledge the fact that whatever constitution will be brought for a referendum will be largely a negotiated document, the extent to which the new charter neglects and omits fundamental tenets inherent of any democratic constitution relevant and alive to the realities of us as a people and as a nation clearly betrays the selfish and monetary interests that drove the three parties to author a new constitution for the country on behalf of the people, while all along trying to convince the public that they were being consulted and included all the way.
It was very treacherous of the MDC, especially the formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to vilify and victimise its civic friends and strategic partners for trying to knock sense in the party and its leadership that they were playing their cards wrong in allowing themselves to fall for the Zanu PF trap by making it a preserve of the politicians alone to author a constitution on behalf of the people.
It is also mind-boggling why the current draft is mum on the Diaspora vote. After all, we heard Copac during earlier episodes of its ongoing circus loudly proclaiming that it had gone on overdrive to consult the Diaspora in the writing of the new charter. And to think that the two MDC formations are also in support of the two vice-presidents’ agenda clearly betrays how easily they can be swayed by Zanu PF into changing earlier positions and principles. In all this, it is clear that Zanu PF is in the driving seat. Never mind that they seem not to want the constitution; for them it makes just perfect sense to be wasting and buying time in government.
It is against this background that the government and especially the three parties in that government should wake up to the reality that their futile project code-named Copac is a waste of the country’s time and resources.