Constitution will be negotiated — analysts

Zimbabwe’s new constitution might end up being a product of negotiations among the three rival political parties in the Global Political Agreement, political analysts have said.

Political and media analysts and researchers John Makumbe and Takura Zhangazha on Thursday told NewsDay that the fact that Copac was using the same rapporteurs to collect data during the constitution outreach process and to upload it after collection might see the production of a draft constitution that did not necessarily reflect the views of Zimbabweans, but entrenched party positions.

Copac this week launched the data uploading stage stage of the constitution-making process where the data gathered during the outreach meetings will now be typed, downloaded and packaged according to the different thematic areas.

“The fact that the rapporteurs are coming from the three political parties means that the data being uploaded is what the three political parties agreed should be part of the content of the new constitution,” said Makumbe.

“At the end of the day, what the people actually said might be ignored.”

He said it was unfortunate that a lot of interest groups were being left out and the draft content of what the thematic committees would present to the second All-Stakeholders’ Conference on the new constitution was most likely to meet stiff resistance.

“The Constitution is supposed to be as non-partisan as possible, but apparently this has not been considered by Copac and that prejudices a lot of views of the ordinary people and different groups,” said Makumbe.

He continued: “I think Copac is really becoming exclusive to the three political parties and this does not augur well for an objective constitution. At the end of the day we will have a constitution which suits political parties and no one else in the country.”

Makumbe said this posed a high risk of the new constitution being rejected and the next elections being held using the old, extensively amended constitution.

Zhangazha shared the same sentiments with Makumbe and said the fact that the same rapporteurs were being used meant that whatever draft constitution was going to be arrived at would be compromised.

“It means whatever draft constitution would be produced is a negotiated political draft which was arrived at through vested political party interests. That will not make the document in any way a democratic and people-driven constitution,” Zhangazha said.

He said just like the outreach process, which was very controversial and marred by a lot of political bickering, the draft to be produced might provoke a lot of hullabaloo.

“So it is possible to see political fighting taking place and also an attempt to arrive at a negotiated constitution, which does not represent the views of the people,” Zhangazha said.

However, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga differed.

He said the people involved in the uploading of data collected during the constitution outreach programmes were cross-sectional.

“When outreach teams were formed, they included civic society. The uploading exercise that is going on now has nothing to do with negotiation of any information or any part of the constitution. What is being done now is to save the information gathered from outreach programmes and bringing in all these people to make sure there is an agreed position and to seek consensus,” Matinenga said. – NewsDay