Editor’s Memo: What negotiated constitution Mr Tsvangirai?

THE suggestion by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party that a new constitution should be a negotiated settlement is a crass violation of the global political agreement (GPA) and antithetical to democratic ethos and values.  

While it appears Tsvangirai is motivated by political violence and intimidation that littered the constitution-making outreach programme in Harare and other areas throughout the country to call for a negotiated supreme law, the underlying truth is that the MDC-T lacked strategy to influence the likely content of the new constitution.
The situation became more untenable when the MDC-T was upstaged by a violent Zanu PF in Harare, Tsvangirai’s stronghold. It dawned on the party that the draft constitution to emerge out of this outreach programme would likely reflect more Zanu PF’s position than that of the MDC-T. Put simply, the MDC-T has realised that the game is up; it was too late for it to influence the content of the new constitution.
Is it not puzzling that the premier said that the new constitution should be negotiated because it has turned out to be more political parties-driven than people-driven? From the onset was it not clear that the constitution-making process would be confined to political parties’ contestations? This is why the MDC-T and Zanu PF came up with documents, which were circulated among their members and supporters, stating their positions on the new charter.
Tsvangirai should also not be intransigent on the GPA — an accusation he frequently made against the octogenarian President Robert Mugabe.
The pact has no room for a negotiated constitution. It states clearly and categorically acknowledges in Article VI that it is the fundamental right and duty of the Zimbabwean people to make a constitution by themselves and for themselves and that the constitution must be owned and driven by the people and must be inclusive and democratic.
The route being suggested by Tsvangirai is antithetical to democratic practice by taking away the right of the people to express their views.
A negotiated process sacrifices constitutionalism in order to advance constitutionality.
We agree that violence and intimidation have marred the outreach programme, but we cannot abandon that process for a negotiated constitution. Violence and intimidation has to be put to an end and how this is done is Tsvangirai’s challenge in government. He must not expect Zanu PF to end violence because it has been in its DNA since 1963 and it has become part of its culture and tradition.
The worrying factor being that since the harmonised elections in March 2008, state security agents have allegedly become part of Zanu PF’s instruments of coercion to protect and sustain a presidential dictatorship.
Sadly, Tsvangirai has failed to demonstrate the tactical and intellectual capacity to deal with state security and Zanu PF violence while in the inclusive government. He has also failed to show his political stamina to influence institutional reforms to end political partisanship in state security organs.
Was this the right time for us to write a new constitution when national healing has not taken root? The answer is a perfect no! A new constitution, in the case of our country, would be a trajectory to usher in a democratic-development state at the expense of the presidential state which we are in. As a result, Mugabe and Zanu PF will fight to retain the status quo and will do everything to cling to power.
My suggestion is that Zimbabwe should have embarked first on a national healing exercise, institute democratic reforms and hold elections before drafting a new supreme law. What I have observed with the current constitution-making process is that it is a contestation of the current structural power by the ruling elite, when it should be a governance charter for posterity.
We should have drawn a lesson from Kenya where the coalition government led a process which produced a constitution now comparable to that of South Africa.
The Kenyan constitution voted for overwhelmingly by people on August 4 is expected to revolutionise governance in the country. The constitution avoided the creation of two centres of power with a position of executive prime minister and it also ended the era of “imperial presidency by checking and balancing executive powers through creating a senate, boosting legislative oversight powers and creating commissions to implementing land policy and other matters”. Citizens were empowered to recall non-performing MPs and participate directly in running development projects.
That’s the way to go.

 

Constantine Chimakure

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