MDC, Zanu delay constitutional talks

A new constitution is viewed as fundamental to efforts to remove the political and economic forces responsible for ruining Zimbabwe.

The delay by the select parliamentary committee driving the constitution-making process is likely to intensify the political infighting between the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF).

Informed sources said the committee co-chairmen from Zanu (PF) and the two factions of the MDC met yesterday in Harare and agreed to postpone the conference to Monday.

The conference was delayed because of worsening clashes between Zanu (PF) and the main MDC wing over the use of the Kariba draft constitution and logistical issues.

Zanu (PF) wants the Kariba draft, which leaves Mugabe’s powers intact, to be the basis of a new constitution, while the MDC rejects this. The Kariba draft was produced and signed by Zanu (PF) and the MDC in 2007 during talks under the auspices of former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

The postponement of the conference comes as it emerged this week that speaker of parliament Lovemore Moyo and his staff are locked in a cold war with MPs in the parliamentary select committee over the constitutional reform process, further jeopardising the exercise.

The fight between parliament’s administration and the MPs’ committee has exposed the cracks within the constitution- making process, which has been widely condemned by civic groups. Critics say it is not inclusive and participatory, and is undemocratic.

The fight is over control of the process, including the planning of the stakeholders’ conference, initially slated to run from today until Sunday; the invitation and accommodation of delegates; tenders for the conference organiser, and the choice of guest speaker.

Parliament wants Moyo to be the guest speaker while MPs are pushing to invite prominent South African politician and business magnate Cyril Ramaphosa.