ZANU PF backtracks on Kariba draft

HARARE – Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party on Monday appeared to backtrack on demands that a proposed new governance charter for Zimbabwe should be based on a controversial draft constitution written by the party and its former opposition rivals three years ago.

ZANU PF, which controls enough parliamentary seats to block passage of a new constitution, had all along vowed to reject any draft document that is not based on the Kariba Draft secretly drawn up in 2007 by Mugabe’s party and the two former opposition MDC formations of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara.

But Paul Mangwana, representing ZANU PF in a three-men board heading a select parliamentary committee leading constitutional reforms, told ZimOnline that thematic or subcommittees of the constitutional committee would come up with a “fresh set of questions” that will be used to solicit the views of Zimbabweans on the proposed new constitution.

Citizens will not be asked to choose whether they wanted the Kariba Draft as the new constitution or as the basis of a new constitution, Mangwana said.

However ZANU PF or any other political party was free to propose the Kariba Draft or any other constitutional draft as input during formulation of questions that shall be posed to Zimbabweans during public consultations by the constitutional committee, added Mangwana.  

Mangwana said: “Thematic committees are working on a set of questionnaires which will help us come up with a format on how to solicit for views from the people.

“We are creating a process which will not allow people to indicate which draft (constitution) they want. Having said that, it is important to mention that each political party is free to bring its own preferred draft in the formulation of questionnaires that will assist us in our consultations.”

Civic organisations and the MDC have rejected the Kariba Draft, saying the document leaves largely untouched the wide-sweeping powers that Mugabe continues to enjoy even after formation of a power-sharing government with Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

In addition to the Kariba document there are two other draft constitutions, the Constitution Commission draft that was rejected by Zimbabweans in a referendum in 2000 and another one drawn up by civic society groups under the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).

According to Douglas Mwonzora – a member of Tsvangirai’s MDC party and a co-chairman of the constitutional committee –the 17 thematic committees will be asked to develop “talking points” to be used during discussions with citizens on the new constitution they want.

“Instead of using any draft, especially the Kariba Draft, we are using talking points which will be developed by thematic committees,” said Mwonzora.

The thematic committees will be chaired by legislators selected from the three main political parties who will be deputised by representatives from civil society.

The proposed new constitution is part of a September 2008 power-sharing deal between Zimbabwe’s three main political parties that gave birth to the country’s coalition government last February.

Once a new constitution is in place, the power-sharing government is expected to call fresh parliamentary, presidential and local government elections although there is no specific date when the unity government should call new elections. – ZimOnline.