Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Time to end Copac gladiators’ ride - Prof J Moyo

25 Mar 2012 at 05:05hrs | Views
If the idea that every dog has its day is indeed true, then the day has come for Copac to be parked.
This is because as Copac's final moment of reckoning beckons, with its discredited drafters who are now better known as drifters preparing to re-draft the already discredited draft constitution from Tuesday, it is very worrying that the "vision thing" is so lacking from the Copac architecture that the political principals in the GPA must now seriously consider un-parking the contentious issues that have retarded the drafting exercise by parking Copac itself to pave the way for general elections that must be held this year without fail under the current Constitution.

It is a truism rooted in biblical times that where there's no vision the people perish. Copac has characteristically lacked a demonstrable, visible, shared and national vision with a redeeming capacity to rally Zimbabweans across the political divide around a common cause with inter-generational value.
Instead, Copac has thus far proven to be a pathetic vision-less and opaque regime-change and succession-seeking process driven by unaccountable so-called co-chairs totally co-ordinated by the UNDP and supervised by a self-indulgent management committee whose combined numbers have in turn proven to be clue-less, frivolous, mischievous, devious, delinquent, defensive and deceptive all rolled into one in the misplaced name of making a new democratic constitution for Zimbabwe under the cover of a GPA that has since expired.

If Copac was based - as it should be - on a requisite national vision to inspire the crafting of a Constitution intended to sink deeper the roots of our hard-won independence in order to widen the gains of our liberation struggle for the benefit of all Zimbabweans across generations beyond regime change and succession politics, then we would be free from the incapacitating political pranks and mischiefs of the moment which have put our country in harm's way.

More specifically, if Copac was a genuine and national constitution-making commitment that most Zimbabweans have expected it to be, its gladiators would have by now realised and accepted that the GPA is not an appropriate framework or forum for crafting an all-inclusive constitution for all Zimbabweans and all times.
For this reason the same gladiators would have also by now unequivocally delinked the Copac process from the holding of the next elections because they would have understood that it is neither desirable nor necessary for Zimbabwe to hold its forthcoming general election under the proposed Copac constitution as a product of the very contentious, narrowly based and frankly divisive GPA process.

The understanding of the foregoing is reinforced by a critical examination of the following six considerations taken together:
First, it is irresponsible for Copac gladiators to ignore the fact that - even if the GPA process is put aside - elections are now practically and legally due in Zimbabwe under the current Constitution whose electoral provisions are as democratic as they come.

This is because on Friday March 30 the countdown to Zimbabwe's second harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local government elections will start in earnest and President Mugabe can be expected to fix the date of those elections any day from next Friday as Zimbabwe's Seventh Parliament will enter its last 12 months.

All elected members of the current Parliament and elected members of local authorities were declared duly elected between March 29 and 30, 2008, and that legal declaration will be four years old on Friday with the result that their tenure is subject to end legally anytime between next Friday and March 30, 2013. Experience and wisdom dictate that a prolonged election campaign period which stretches for 12 months can be politically disruptive and economically costly as it invariably invites public anxiety and unpredictability for the business community.

If we were to do things with a clear vision, the implication of this reality for Copac is not to rush the Constitution-making exercise but to delink it from the next elections which can - as they indeed must - be free, fair and non-violent under the current Constitution.

Rather than recognising this point, Copac gladiators have sought to use their process to be part of the next elections including influencing if not determining the date of the holding of those elections. A constitution-making exercise which gets entangled with the politics of an impending election becomes necessarily corrupt and therefore utterly useless and thus objectionable in the extreme.

Second, it is as amazing as it is disconcerting that Copac's lack of an enabling national vision because of its fatal preoccupation with political issues of the day has caused it to ignore the clear and present constitutional challenge that the electorate in 16 House of Assembly and 12 Senatorial constituencies across the country are not represented in Parliament. The number of electoral vacancies in local authorities is even more staggering.

Surely this is unconstitutional and the time has come for voters in the affected constituencies to approach the Supreme Court for immediate redress without fear or favour.

The point to keep in mind is that the holding of these by-elections today would in fact constitute a mini-general election and maybe that explains the anomaly.

But there's absolutely no legal or constitutional reason why by-elections must not now be held in these 28 Parliamentary constituencies.

And there's no political reason either given the expiry on September 15, 2009, of the provisions of Article XXI of the GPA which placed a moratorium to the effect that the signatories to the GPA would not contest each other in any by-election for a period of 12 months from the date of the signing of the GPA.  The self-serving claim from some electoral cowards in the GPA that the 12-month moratorium was extended for another 12 months is of no effect because that alleged extension expired on September 15, 2010.

In any event, Article XXI of the GPA did not prohibit the holding of by-elections but simply prohibited the GPA signatories from contesting against each in any by-election for 12 months from September 15, 2008.

Is it Copac's view that these 28 Parliamentary vacancies should be filled under its proposed draft constitution?  Indeed is it the view of anybody else out there including in Sadc that 28 Parliamentary constituencies must remain unrepresented until Copac comes up with a new Constitution even when that is clearly not only a deviation from the GPA but also and more seriously a violation of Zimbabwe's Constitution?

Why are people failing to keep their heads above dirty waters of the day in order to see the very clear and straightforward issues of the day in Zimbabwe? 

Anyhow if these long overdue by-elections were to be held today, as they really must, the result could be equivalent to a mini-general election. That could see one of the GPA parties in Parliament emerging  with a majority of at least 106 seats out of 210 with the consequence of sinking the GPA and its so-called Inclusive Government, not to mention kissing Copac goodbye.

Could the fear of this very real possibility be the reason behind the unconstitutional silence of conspiracy about the stunning number of the long overdue Parliamentary by-elections?

There's no need to beat about the bush here. The national leadership faces a very urgent and important question: whether to hold the outstanding Parliamentary by-elections whose effect would be that of a mini-general election and would thus bring the GPA to an end or to hold the full general election whose effect would also be the same.

What this means is that however one looks at the issue of general elections in Zimbabwe, the fact is that they are now constitutionally due either in the form of at least 28 Parliamentary by-elections that would be as good as a mini-general election or in the form of a full general election.

Parenthetically, those who - like Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti - keep making perfunctory noise that there can be no general election without self-serving so-called reforms first; or that President Mugabe cannot call for a general election without the agreement of the Prime Minister; or that there's no money for elections; or that Copac must first complete its draft which should then be put to a referendum and a Parliamentary vote for adoption so that elections can be held under a new constitution; or that

Sadc must first give its nod to the holding of the general election in Zimbabwe, should all please take note and appreciate that if they had a requisite national vision beyond cheap politics they would understand the simple fact that none of their nonsense about preconditions for elections in Zimbabwe would apply to the holding of the 28 Parliamentary by-elections whose effect could be a game changer in a fundamental way.

Third, the time has come for our nation to understand that 80 percent of the views gathered during Copac's outreach programme did not say or show that Zimbabweans want a new constitution.

In fact, an objective and neutral analysis and reading of the outcome of Copac's outreach exercise clearly and unambiguously shows that Zimbabweans, whose Constitution has been democratically amended 19 times since 1980, are by and large happy with the current Constitution.

This is mainly because more than 80 percent of the views they expressed most definitely and without any doubt whatsoever confirm the fundamental provisions of the current Constitution as amended 19 times.

This is why the position that we should go ahead with the holding of the long overdue harmonised general election is more than justified and thus unassailable.

As such the notion or proposition that Zimbabwe must have a new constitution which should be used to run the next harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local government elections is very strange, foreign-driven and, in fact, quite weird as it has no basis in the GPA or the Constitution or the outcome of Copac's outreach programme. While Article VI of the GPA does indeed provide for constitution-making and proscribes a timeline for that process, it does not however guarantee the success of the process not least because such success is dependent on the agreement of the three GPA signatories to support Copac's draft constitution and for that draft to be endorsed by a referendum and supported by a two thirds majority vote in Parliament, none of which can be prejudged or guaranteed by anybody.

If Copac was run by honest Zimbabweans of integrity guided by a requisite national vision with no foreign influence from South Africa and through the UNDP from the Western countries that have illegally imposed sanctions against our country, they would not pretend to be drafting a new constitution based on the views of the people when they know only too well that the people did not say that they want a new constitution.

But alas Copac is one heck of a daylight sham and that is sad but the good thing is that its days are now numbered and if its gladiators and supporters do not understand this then they will not understand anything.

Fourth, if the truth were to be told guided by an indigenous vision without fear or favour about the state of our country today and its prospects down the line; it would be that the contentious issues that we need to sort out are political and not constitutional.

There's nothing in our current Constitution which engenders or protects political intolerance or political violence.

Our major challenges have to do with political intolerance and political violence which have become two sides of the same terrible coin spinning around some of our politics.

As President Mugabe has said on too many occasions to mention, we have tended to abuse politics to the unacceptable extent of seeing each other as enemies where we are just political opponents who are otherwise compatriots with a common belonging just like Dynamos and Highlanders in football.

Yes even sell-outs - and they are there among us - are compatriots whom we need to persuade and not fight not least because violence is never persuasive as it begets more violence followed by contempt.

The point though is that the intolerance and violence in question are political problems and not constitutional issues to sort out. Yet here we are - with Copac on the loose - doing between little and nothing to tackle political intolerance and political violence while doing all sorts of silly things pretending that we need a new constitution when there's no demonstrable basis to support that pretension. It's a pity that Copac gladiators and their supporters do not get this such that they might have to end up learning the hard way.

Fifth, it should be pointed out in the strongest possible terms that a major fact that explains why Copac gladiators do not get it is because the entire Copac constitution-making process is driven by a combination of strange bedfellows who are preoccupied with either regime change within the MDC formations and succession politics within Zanu-PF ranks and some Sadc circles.

If people have something to say about regime change and Zanu-PF succession let them come out in the open through the political process where they will find their opponents. Politics is politics and nobody has a monopoly there.

But nobody should think or imagine that they are smartest in town or that they are so cool that they get away with using the constitution-making process to effect regime change or achieve their succession ambitions. The constitution-making doors are shut for that and they will never be opened.

Sixth, while the now expired GPA has admittedly been very useful beyond what has been acknowledged in creating conditions for political tolerance and against unwanted, unneeded and unrepeatable political violence in our country especially during elections, and while the GPA was indeed a necessary instrument for the setting up of the coalition government following the inconclusive Parliamentary elections after the March 29, 2008 elections, it must nevertheless be said, and as loud as possible, that the GPA is just not the right instrument or framework for making a new constitution for all Zimbabweans and for all times.

Everybody has seen how since its signing on September 15, 2008 the GPA partners themselves have remained a bickering and quarrelsome lot to the point of not only having a dysfunctional Cabinet but also having endless and very contentious negotiations oddly being undertaken by the very same negotiators who negotiated the GPA and who are also Cabinet Ministers.

As a result the GPA has since 2008 remained a political forum for endless negotiations that has distinguished itself more for doing nothing through the so-called Inclusive Government than for doing anything.

Why does anybody anywhere think that such a hopeless three-party forum is necessary and sufficient to function as an instrument for making a democratic constitution for all

Zimbabweans for all times?
The fact of the matter is that the GPA forum upon which the Copac process is based is not only rife with internal divisions that explain the endless negotiations and dysfunctional Government but it is also absolutely inappropriate for making a national constitution whose vision must necessarily be beyond the assured limitations and even stupidity of the GPA parties.

As a political creature of the GPA, Copac carries all the dirt and problems of its creator.
Things would have been different if Copac was a creature of the law and if it had a competent, transparent, accountable, believable and thus credible leadership prepared to stand up for Zimbabwe without appearing to be selling out at every crucial turn under the cover of the GPA.

A constitution is a national and not three-party matter.  If Zimbabwe needs a new constitution - and that is not as obvious as it should be, given the outcome of Copac's outreach programme - then the instrument and process for making that new constitution should not be run or determined only by three political parties or by the parties that make up the government of the day as a creature of their agreement such as the GPA but should be truly national as a creature of the law.

In other words constitution-making should be legally and not politically driven.  Examples in countries such as Kenya, Uganda and South Africa speak to this fundamental point.

The confusion between the political process and constitution-making in Zimbabwe today is compounded if not made even more poignant by the fact that, notwithstanding the predictable denials when their draft speaks for itself, Copac gladiators and their supporters are clearly using the Copac constitution-making process to effect regime change in Zimbabwe and pursue succession politics in Zanu-PF.

Copac is therefore fatally flawed and this is why it is failing to produce a draft constitution based on the views of the people and has instead resorted to a negotiated process as if the same three parties that are negotiating did not negotiate before using the same negotiators that are now Copac's Management Committee.

Those negotiators previously agreed and signed a draft constitution called the Kariba Draft which was not implemented even though they are the same parties that are now in government and are once again negotiating under Copac the same Kariba constitution that they signed in January 2008. This is basically a circus gone too far and the time has

come to park it in the same way Copac has itself parked a number of constitutional issues despite the fact that the people of Zimbabwe pronounced themselves very clearly on those issues during Copac's outreach programme.

If Copac can park the people's views, as it has indeed done during the drafting exercise that has drifted away, then surely the people can also park Copac and get on with their business, starting with the holding of either the 28 Parliamentary by-elections as a mini-general election or the holding of the harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local government elections under the current Constitution which remains the only viable alternative.

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.