Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Copac has to put up or shut up

05 Mar 2012 at 06:57hrs | Views
If there is one thing that has become very telling and totally objectionable about Copac's now ill-fated constitution-making process and its treacherous drafting outcomes, it is the sinister and thus doomed spirited attempts by some imperialist interests and treacherous political forces in our midst to transform Copac into a Lancaster II political negotiation process.

Their strategy this time around is meant to achieve a new imperialist settlement in Zimbabwe some 32 years after the first Lancaster process which paved the way for national independence in 1980 under a half-hearted political settlement which did not address Zimbabwe's economic, cultural and social rights.

Yes, Lancaster II is upon us in the form of Copac and the sooner we wise up to that ugly reality the better for us and the future of our country and children. Copac is Lancaster II and if you understand that you will understand everything that is wrong about the cur­rent constitution-making process and why it is not acceptable.

The question before the nation is whether after 32 years of independence Zimbabwe needs a Lancaster II disguised as Copac? Of course the answer should be a resounding no!

While you reflect on this, it is now common cause that whereas Copac was supposed to be a people-driven constitution-making process under the GPA for Zimbabwe by Zimbabweans, it has now come out very clearly in its true colours as a Lancaster II political negotiation process in which once again nationalist forces are being made to negotiate with imperialist interests for a compromise for a new settlement to reverse the gains of our independence.

Just like during the first Lancaster constitution-making process, the two magic words in Copac have become "negotiate" and "compromise" thus leaving the real question of the moment blown out in the open: What should be negotiated and who should negotiate it to seek what constitutional compromise and in whose interest? Why should a free people compromise when they are making their own constitution? Compromise with whom and for what?

As these questions begin to get the attention they deserve, the moment of reckoning for Copac has finally come given the March 15 ultimatum given to it by the GPA principals to conclude its irretrievably compromised draft­ing process that has been reduced to a shame­ful cut-and-paste exercise against the back­drop of a growing credibility crisis.

At the core of Copac's growing credibility crisis, which just about puts paid to all its prospects of coming up with a new constitution, is the scandalous fact that what initially was supposed to be a people-driven constitution-making process in terms of Article VI of the GPA has quite clearly become a totally unacceptable and rather sickening Lancaster II negotiation process to resolve political dif­ferences between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations under the guise of constitution-making.

Zanu-PF colleagues who are closely follow­ing the Copac's ill-fated process have been shocked and disappointed to hear Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana tell them that he does not have much constitution-making space to insist on the inclusion of the views of the people as captured during the Copac outreach programme because, he says, he has to "negotiate and compromise" with the MDC-T's Douglas Mwonzora, who is increasingly becoming delinquent, truant and generally unco-operative.

What is causing public concern is the fact that after telling everyone that more than 70 percent of what was included in Copac's first draft unofficially published by The Herald on February 10 came from the treacherous minds of Copac's naughty drafters, Cde Mangwana has been widely quoted in the media claiming that Copac has since corrected the mischief of its roguish drafters, yet all indications from inside the opaque drafting process is that very little has actually been corrected.

The rundown of what is apparently happen­ing is the following: Copac's drafters who have distinguished themselves as drifters are now not on the frontline of the drafting process but are oper­ating from the backline where they are work­ing in the dark with the likes of Mwonzora in some kind of advisory role to the MDC-T. As a result â€" and this is a very serious issue â€" there's no proper legal drafting of the proposed constitution taking place anymore. Instead "legal drafting" has given way to "political reviewing" of Copac's first draft unofficially published by The Herald on February 10. Cde Mangwana confirmed this shocking development when he was quoted by The Herald yesterday as saying that the Management Committee of Copac, which is made up of GPA negotiators, "will finish reviewing (not drafting) the draft constitution by next week."

While there's no need to belabour the obvious point that "legal drafting" and "political reviewing" have a difference of night and day, the fact that Copac's drafting process has now become a political review is of course outrageous and reprehensible in the extreme.

In the first place, it is of great concern that Copac's very offensive first draft unofficially published by The Herald on February 10 which was mischievously drafted by Moses Chinhengo and company was entirely anti-Zimbabwe and that at least 70 percent of its content was not based on the views of the peo­ple as collected during Copac's outreach pro­gramme. In the second place, it is shocking that Copac has gone ahead and used this very offensive and anti-Zimbabwe draft as a template for a review now intended to meet the March 15 deadline of the drafting process as directed by the GPA principals.

The bottom line is that we have here Copac's first draft which by all accounts is nothing but garbage and, according to Cde Mangwana, that garbage is now being reviewed by Copac's Management Committee. But why is Copac reviewing garbage when it should be throwing it away? Is it not obvious that when you review garbage you will necessarily come up with garbage in keeping with the dictum that "garbage in garbage out" because garbage always begets even more garbage.

Copac's constitution-making process has become constitutional garbage mainly because it has drifted away from a people-driven process to a political process of negotiations seeking a compromise document produced by Zanu-PF and the two MDC forma­tions and treacherously misrepresented as a new constitution in the name of the GPA.

It is a well-known fact that the Lancaster Constitution which came into effect on April 18 1980 was a negotiated document which represented a compromise between Zim­babwe's nationalist forces and Britain as the country's former colonial power. That compromise saw the entrenched clauses on a range of fundamental issues in the Bill of Rights to protect racist Rhodie interests in Zimbabwe's constitution for some 10 years.

And here we are, 32 years later in 2012, star­ing spirited efforts of a Lancaster II with the same 1979 issues only made differently by the fact that, unlike then, the faces and mouths of the imperialist and colonial interests in our country today are local in the form of the two MDC formations.

As things stand, the review by Copac's Management Committee of the first draft of the drifters unofficially published by The Herald on February 10 is a negotiated and compromise Lancaster II process with three scenarios.

In the first scenario most provisions still have two views or positions yet to be decided by Copac's Management Committee with one representing Zanu-PF and the other representing both or one of the two MDC formations. In the second scenario which makes up for most of the cases, the review of the first draft has produced a position agreed by all the three GPA parties. And in the third scenario the three parties have failed to even agree on two or three positions and have altogether "parked" the contentious constitutional issues in question pending more negotiation and compromise in the evil spirit of what has become a Lancaster II process in an independent Zimbabwe 32 years after independence.

Some of the "parked" issues where negotiation and compromise are still pending include the senseless debate on devolution. This debate is senseless because devolution, which is a well-recognised public administration principle and concept of decentralisation, has been falsely morphed into a constitutional issue carrying all the baggage of federalism which has become a dirty word in Zimbabwean constitutional debate. In other words, those among us who have all along been seeking the scourge of federalism are now seeking refuge under devolution as if federalism and devolution mean one and the same thing. Now Zanu-PF is expected to negotiate this utter nonsense in the Lancaster II process otherwise known as Copac.

The time has come to make it very clear that Zanu-PF will not support or be part of any draft constitution that seeks federalism in Zimbabwe under any guise let alone the cover of devolution. Federalism is not devolution and devolution is not federalism. Zanu-PF will accept devolution, as it has always done not as a constitutional principle (because it is not) but as the essence of decentralisation in public administration in accordance with recognised international best practice in the field of public administration.

What this means is that the misrepre­sentation of devolution as a constitutional issue in pursuit of federalism must stop and this means devolution, which is a good public administration thing that can find expression in acts of Parliament and in management applications of the day, has no place whatsoever in any serious or respectable democratic constitution.

It is therefore a total waste of time for Copac to park devolution in the vain hope of reaching a negotiated compromise. Public administration is a field of study and not a negotiating platform.

Apart from the so-called parked issues such as devolution there are other so-called agreed provisions in the Copac process which expose its treacherous Lancaster II dimensions.

One is the assertion that "everyone" (not just Zimbabweans but everyone) has the right to freedom of the media.

Again this is constitutional rubbish because media freedom can only be enjoyed by media owners and yet it is not possible for everyone to be a media owner.

Besides, "everyone" includes foreigners and it is unacceptable for the sinister Lancaster II stream in Copac to empower and constitutionalise the machinations of the likes of the BBC and CNN who are, of course, part of "everyone."

Our laws must make a clear difference between nationals and foreigners without confusing things under the nebulous if not treacherous construction of "everyone".

In any event, the media (including social media platforms) are owned by a few as a business and it is ludicrous to suggest that the few who own the media have more rights than anyone else.

It is therefore a treacherous insult to the intelligence of Zimbabweans for Copac to have a draft constitution in 2012 which glorifies media freedom when we all now know that such a freedom is a fiction that cannot be enjoyed by everyone.

The only relevant freedom in this regard is of course freedom of speech or expression which is an innate and therefore natural right which every human being is born with.

But freedom of expression and freedom of speech is not at all the same thing as freedom of the media.

Another agreed issue in Copac which is a totally unacceptable trick is the proposed creation of the so-called Constitutional Court.

What kind of animal is that and what is it supposed to achieve in Zimbabwe 32 years after independence and in view of the 19 amendments to our Constitution which have been done to entrench our democracy away from the 1979 Lancaster constitution?

The fact of the matter is that there's absolutely nothing wrong with the institutional organisation and setup of our judiciary today in constitutional terms although improvements are, of course, a permanent fact of life such that no insti­tution is immune from change. Our Supreme Court is our Constitutional Court and all the other courts below it are constitutional courts in their own right.

When South Africa introduced a con­stitutional court in 1994 it was out of the recognition that the judiciary system in that country was dominated by apartheid interests.

And in Zimbabwe when the draft constitution of the Constitutional Commis­sion in 2000 proposed the creation of a constitutional court it was because the judiciary in this country was in the final analysis dominated by Rhodesians who were bent on reversing the gains of our independence.

But all that has since been rectified through a series of constitutional amendments and national policy such that our Supreme Court has in fact become the constitutional court that we have always wanted.

There's therefore no need for a new appellate division of the judiciary nor is there any need for a new constitutional court.

None whatsoever!

What we need to do is to, of course, strengthen our pillars of nationhood in the executive, legislative and judiciary. We must constitutionally build on what we have and not invent or emulate nonsense against our country and its founding values and ethos under the guise of constitution-making.

Come March 15, Copac will have to put up or shut up. The fact though is that Zimbabweans are sick and tired of the Copac charade.

Fortunately, we have a sound Constitution which has already been amended to ensure that we hold free, fair, democratic and non-violent elections.

Yes we can and should do more in that regard but that does not require that we change our Constitution.

The time has come for us to understand that some among us across the political divide want to hide their ambitions and schemes under Copac to seek leadership change, government-change or regime change by transforming Copac into a treacherous Lancaster II process for a new negotiated political settlement fronting local puppets to reverse the gains of our liberation struggle under the guise of con­stitution-making.

If you check out the views of the people gathered on the kind of new constitution they want for themselves and posterity as gathered during the Copac outreach pro­gramme you will notice that their views basically endorse our current Constitution as amended 19 times since 1980.

That should not only be food for thought for Copac but also for anyone who still does not understand that the 2012 harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local government elections will b e held under the current Constitution.

Source - zimpapers
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.