Zimbabwean Constitution making process faces major huddle

The much awaited first stakeholders’ Conference on the Constitution making process flopped July 13, 2009 on allegations of serious disruptions by Zanu PF. Contrary to the provisions of the Global Political Agreement, participants are alleged to have been chanting party slogans. The 3 principals to the Agreement did not attend as planned. By 1400hr (13/7) Zimbabwean time participants could be seen leaving the Conference venue while others, most likely ZANU PF activists, were singing revolutionary songs. There was heavy police presence although there was no violence.

Civil Society leaders met separately to re strategise and ensure that their submission are presented to the Parliamentary Select Committee. It would appear the Civil society was the most organised group having met on 3-4 July to consolidate their position. The organised Civil society however excludes the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions which has publicly announced that it will not participate in the constitution making process.

The conference had t0 be held by July 13, 2009 – the deadline provided in the GPA. Meanwhile there have been different positions especially between the two main parties on the constitutional process. Zanu PF is strongly for the use of the Kariba Draft as the basis for the new constitution.  MDC-T on the other hand has said it is receptive to as many ideas and drafts as people of Zimbabwe have. The MDC-T position is in line with the GPA which provides that the Select Committee should present a draft Constitution after broad consultations.

The main questions then are: What does this mean for the people of Zimbabwe? Are these merely teething problems for the Select Committee that will be overcome, or this is the end of the road for the inclusive government? Why is Zanu PF seeking to impose the Kariba Draft on the people of Zimbabwe?

Ntando Ndlovu ,  Harare 13 July 2009

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