SA Facilitators in Harare to tackle draft charter deadlock

The facilitation team representing South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma held a meeting with Zimbabwe’s negotiators in Harare on Tuesday, to try and breathe life into the stalled constitutional reform process.

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The visit follows a weekend decision by ZANU PF’s politburo that their amended draft charter is “final and non-negotiable”, with the MDC formations insisting that the agreed version be taken to the All Stakeholders Conference.

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Lindiwe Zulu, President Zuma’s International Relations advisor and spokesperson for the facilitation team, confirmed the meeting with negotiators was taking place Tuesday. Her team also includes Charles Nqakula and Mac Maharaj. Zulu said President Zuma was not expected in Harare this week.

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The facilitators have a difficult mountain to climb with the MDC formations insisting they will not give in to ZANU PF demands to amend the version agreed to by all political parties.

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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told journalists at his monthly press briefing Tuesday that he has rejected ZANU PF’s proposed amendments and  a deadlock is now “inevitable”.

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MDC-N leader Professor Welshman Ncube echoed the same sentiments. He told SW Radio Africa that there is no chance his party will renegotiate the draft constitution with ZANU PF, who he said do not have enough of a majority in parliament to force an election with their version of the constitution.

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“ZANU PF is basically saying they have given themselves the right and the power to rewrite any clause in the constitution the way they wish and the other parties must accept their version of every clause. And it is not an invitation to negotiate. It is clearly a directive to say accept what we have done,” Ncube explained.

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He added: “Clearly we will not be dictated to by ZANU PF. There is absolutely no chance that we will ever grant ZANU PF the power of the last word in writing the Constitution of Zimbabwe. And they have no balls to take their version to a referendum because they know it will be rejected by the Zimbabwean people.

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But many observers are questioning whether there is any political will within SADC to pressure Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF, given the controversial role SADC leaders played in protecting them by suspending the SADC Tribunal in Namibia.

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The regional court had ruled in 2008 that Mugabe’s land grab exercise was illegal and racist and must stop. The Mugabe regime dismissed the ruling and challenged its legality. Rather than deal with them, SADC leaders suspended the Tribunal’s operations instead, affecting all human rights cases in the region.

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Meanwhile in a statement the Crisis Coalition said Zimbabwe’s deadlock over the constitution was a test of the resolve of the SADC facilitators “to stick to previously agreed terms and not be side tracked by attempts to veer off course”, and a test of their “commitment to process, especially as agreed to by the parties to Zimbabwe’s GPA”.

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Crisis said this is also a test for the 2 MDC formations, who so far had remained loyal to the COPAC process “in spite of their own reservations with some of the clauses implanted onto the (original) draft by ZANU PF”. – SW Radio

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