Zimbabwe Constitution Process Suspended As "Funds Are Looted"

With civil society organisations like the National Constitutional Assembly of Zimbabwe "ready to die for a new constitution" not based on the dismal Kariba Draft agreed to between Mugabe and Tsvangirai in 2005, the process that was supposed to have started this month is now suspended. This comes as it is alleged that US$4 million given to the process has been "looted" and not a single thing required for the "outreach" purchased

Harare, Zimbabwe, 21 January 2010

What did I tell you about celebrating "announcements of intentions"?

Amid reports that US$4 million already given to the Constitution-making process for Zimbabwe's new Constitution, parliament has announced that the process has been suspended "indefinitely" until certain issues are sorted out.

"All constitutional programmes have been suspended by the management committee. They felt there were other issues which needed attention before the outreach programme begins.

"There are still disagreements on the composition of rapporteurs, but there are other more pressing issues, which have to be addressed like financial constraints.

"Recording equipment is yet to be bought, cars haven’t been mobilised and rapporteurs are yet to be trained.

"Therefore, we cannot give a timetable of when the actual outreach will start because some of the issues are beyond our control as the Select Committee," was the comment from Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana of ZANU PF, who is co-chair of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Select Committee on the New Constitution

The Ministry of Finance has already given the process US$4 million, yet one of the reasons cited for suspending  the "outreach programme" by people driving this process is that no resources have been put at the disposal of the outreach teams.

Both ZANU PF and MDC-T are claiming that no cars have been bought for the teams to go around the country soliciting the electorate's opinions on the Kariba Draft that they is now being used as the basis for Zimbabwe's new constitution, despite the protests of almost everyone with a brain in Zimbabwe.

The other reason is that there is deep distrust amongst the parties to the Global Political (Dis)Agreement. This has resulted in the parties not agreeing amongst themselves who should write down the opinions of the electorate as the outreach teams go about their business.

MDC-T people think that if it is ZANU PF members and nominees doing the recording, then they will doctor the results in order to ensure that the new Constitution reflects ZANU PF wishes and preferences.

ZANU PF is also taking the same view.

Both parties, however, are reluctant to let other players, such representatives from Mavambo, ZAPU and Zimbabwean civil society do the recording of people's views because they think that these groups would also be partisan.

All this is only because the parties in the Inclusive Government decided to ignore the genuine concerns of civil society and other Zimbabwe political parties. Knowing that most of them are opposed to the Kariba Draft, they do not trust them to be impartial in recording people's views.

The concept, therefore, is that, because ZANU PF and MDC-T know that they are a dishonest bunch, they think that other players will take the same attitude and dishonestly record the findings.

Stalemate, then.

Despite the public reasons given, sources deep within one of the main parties to the GPA say that the main reason for this suspension is that the US$4 million given to the process by the Ministry of Finance has already "been blown" and there is nothing to show for it.

Certainly, that US$4 million would have been enough to ensure that vehicles and other supplies needed by the outreach teams are purchased. There is money coming from donors, but this is being released in tranches, as certain milestones are passed. The important thing would have been to start the process itself and then the rest of the funds would have been released.

The disagreements over the way forward are at the highest level of the parties to the GPA. Teh negotiators, all senior ministers with the ear of each of their principals, seem to be lacking the will to go ahead and ensure that things move forward.

There really appears to be no way forward for this new Constitution. Besides, how the parties could be going ahead in the face of opposition from the majority of Zimbabweans and in the absence of genuine power-sharing is beyond the comprehension of normal Zimbabweans.

Tsvangirai has one leg in the Inclusive Government. Mugabe is fighting to push him out of that same Zimbabwe Inclusive Government. The divisions within the coalition of the unwilling are as deep as ever, there has been no move to start the process of national healing (yet we have three whole Ministers in charge of this and one wonders what they do everyday in their offices).....the dysfunctional government limps along, buying time, fighting and shortchanging the people.

Mugabe must be smiling today. He wants to go into any new elections with the old Constitution in place and must be thrilled that this confused process is tottering on the brink of collapse.



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