THE Zanu PF politburo on Saturday gave President Robert Mugabe the green light to make final negotiations with other GPA principals on the draft constitution, paving the way for the party to soften its hard-line stance on the contents of the proposed charter for the country.Report by Patrice Makova
Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo told The Standard after a special politburo meeting in Harare that although the party had endorsed its own version of the draft, it was now up to Mugabe and other principals to come up with a final position on the document.
He said the party endorsed all the proposed amendments to the draft without further corrections.
“It was not a long meeting. We just endorsed our draft which has already been submitted to the three principals,” he said.
“It is now up to the principals to decide whether to take the draft or not, but our job of reviewing and amending the draft is now done.”
Gumbo said Zanu PF was happy with the numerous amendments it made to the Copac draft and was confident that the party’s view would prevail when Mugabe meets his two GPA counterparts, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T and Professor Welshman Ncube of MDC.
“We are happy with the amended draft and it now represents the views of the people,” he said.
Gumbo said the issue of
by-elections for the vacant parliamentary seats in the country did not come up for discussion. The Supreme Court recently ordered Mugabe to announce the dates for holding by elections in three vacant seats in Matabeleland by Friday this week.
Zanu PF has proposed a wholesale amendment to the draft compiled by Copac. The party has struck off provisions to do with devolution of power, dual citizenship and the introduction of a separate Constitutional court, as well as the establishment of an independent prosecuting authority separate from the office of the Attorney-General.
The party also wants the introduction of the compulsory national youth service and has struck off provisions limiting the term of offices for senior officials such as permanent secretaries, while also maintaining the sweeping Presidential powers.
But politburo sources said Mugabe was going to compromise on several positions made by the party.
“The politburo literally gave President a carte blanche to discuss with Tsvangirai and Ncube hoping that he is going to outsmart them,” said the source. “The hope is that both sides are going to make concessions, but ultimately Zanu PF would have made the most gain.”
Meanwhile, the National Constitutional Assembly national taskforce met in Harare on Saturday to discuss the Copac draft and decided to go ahead and campaign for a no vote in the event a referendum was held.
The organisation said the so-called outreach was a ploy to abuse resources because the document was largely drawn from the Kariba Draft of 2007.
“Ultimately, three people will decide on the content of the constitution and we therefore insist on a process led by an independent Constitutional Commission not answering to any political party but answerable to an agreed process which respects the people,” resolved the NCA.
The organisation said the issue of a new constitution must be separated from the next elections, which should now be held under a set of reforms which will guarantee a free and fair poll.
Tug-of-war between the political parties
The two MDC formations have said the Copac draft was final and would not accept any further amendments to the document which was agreed after a compromise by the three coalition partners. The two parties argued that Zanu PF, through its Copac co-chairperson, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana and GPA negotiators Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa and Transport and Communication minister, Nicholas Goche, appended their signatures to the draft.
Zanu PF has on the other hand warned that failure by the MDCs to renegotiate the document could mean that there was no need to go for an all stakeholder’s conference and referendum later this year.
This would result in the current Lancaster House Constitution being used in next elections, giving unfair advantage to the former ruling party.