Zimbabwe Constitutional Crisis - Fight! Fight! Fight!

Members of the National Constitutional Assembly seen here protesting are unlikely to swayed by the weak statement from Advocate Matinenga today. Matinenga is the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs and he has issued a statement to the media trying to counter another statement earlier this week from ZANU PF's Minister Mangwana in which he demanded that the Ministry of Finance give the Committee US$4 million in order for ZANU PF to participate. The two contradicting statements means that the fight over the funding of the process by donors is not resolved, as the government is so broke it can't even pay attention (to service delivery).

Harare, Zimbabwe, 11 September 2009

Advocate Eric Matinenga, a minister in the party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC, called a press conference at which he tried to pick a fight with Minister Mangwana of ZANU PF, who demanded US$4 million from the moribund and broke Inclusive Government in order to allow the process to proceed.

Matinenga is the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs in this Frankensteins monster of a government.

Matinenga told the press that the Constitutional process is "irreversible" (they love that word in the MDC these days, don't they?) There was nothing new that he put on the table and the statement was purely designed to counter Mangwana's statements earlier this week.

But Mangwana, as a co-chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee in charge of the process, really does have the power to sabotage the whole thing if he has the backing of Mugabe, which he clearly does.

Mugabe told a gathering at Heroes Acre a couple of months back that he will never accept a constitution-making process that is funded by donors, saying, "Mr Speaker, please, please, let this process be owned by Zimbabweans." So we know he is behind this whole drive by ZANU PF to sabotage the process if it is funded by donors.

Now, Advocate Matinenga, a very bright chap in an impossible situation right now, made it clear that the MDC is basically capitulating to the demands from ZANU PF. Yet again.

Addressing the concern about funding, he said his ministry was "in the process of capacitating the constitution-making process."

With what money? That is the immediate question. ZANU PF will not play ball, as they have made clear, until there is US$4 million handed over to them from the hands of government and not from donors.

In fact, ZANU PF's Mangwana showed just how impossible his party wants to make the process when he specifically said that the money should come from Treasury, meaning Tendai Biti's Ministry of Finance.

He acted as if the Advocate Matinenga's ministry does not exist at all and it is quite clear that if money was to be given to the Ministry by donors, for example, for onward transmission to the process drivers, ZANU PF would still boycott it and call for government to give them the money from Finance.

It is all just designed to make sure that the process does not go ahead and the MDC should start planning much better than they have been doing now.

Matinenga quoted that press conference held by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara after the disruptions at All Stakeholders Conference proof that the "Principals" are committed to the process.

He is obviously kidding himself, as anyone can see. Mugabe has made no moves to identify or discipline the ZANU PF ring-leaders of that disruption because he himself ordered it.

There was an attempt in today's statement from Matinenga to address the concerns of civil society about this process being driven by parliament.

He claims that the Committee is a "purpose-made" organ that will not fall under Parliament, but will have its own director and administration separate from parliament.

That will not wash with civil society and they will continue boycotting it.

So, in this childish game of one-upmanship, the standoff continues. Like the kids say at the playground, the rest of the world is looking on and shouting Fight! Fight! Fight!


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