As the parties to the GPA, Zanu PF, MDC and MDC-T, continue to haggle over what direction to take regarding the Copac draft, The Standard reporter, Nqaba Matshazi (NM) spoke to Zanu PF representative in the Copac management committee, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (MPM), to find out what he thinks is the way forward.
NM: Zanu PF negotiators, whom you were part of, agreed to a certain draft but now we hear that there are some amendments, does that mean you were not taking instructions from the party?
MPM: No, no. We were instructed by the party to go and come up with a constitution basing it on the views of the people, but inevitably we reached a lot of deadlocks during the process.
In the early stages of putting the data or even attempting to come up with a constitution, we had deadlocks on the issue of dual citizenship, devolution, executive powers, homosexuality and gay rights. These issues were parked in the management committee, we removed them from the select committee, hoping that some resolution would be found.
It was clear as to what the people had said and we entered into a give-and-take scenario, where on certain issues the MDC was giving on the issue of land, war veterans and so on. We thought we had sellable proposals. So the draft we came up with was a proposal to our party, saying we think this is a reasonable compromise. But our party has come back to us to say we cannot negotiate the views of the people.
This is the reason why our party is saying if 52% of the people say they do not want dual citizenship who are you to negotiate their views? The MDC-T was saying we will not have a new constitution if dual citizenship is not allowed and we decided to compromise, hoping that this would be acceptable but our party says stick to the views of the people.
On the next issue of running mates, it was introduced by members of the managing committee hoping that this would solve the succession issue within parties, but it did not come either from the people or from our principals.
NM: On the issue of running mates, we are made to understand that there was a deadlock and Patrick Chinamasa went and consulted the President (Robert Mugabe) and the party and came back and signed off the proposal …
MPM: That is the impression we got, but unfortunately when we went to the politburo, the issue did not get sufficient support.
NM: Speaking of compromises, we understand that yourself, Chinamasa and (Nicholas) Goche received a lot of slack from the politburo over the issue, what happened?
MPM: You call it slack, we see it as criticism for negotiating the people’s views. Our party’s position, being a party of the people, was that we should go by what the people say. On certain matters, in the interests of making progress, we had negotiated even where the people had an express view and our party criticised us for negotiating the people’s views.
If you look at all these amendments, the party was juxtaposing the draft against what the people had said and wherever the people had a view and we compromised on that, the party would say go back to the people’s views.
NM: Now on the issue of progress, there is a deadlock …
MPM: I think there is a lot of political grandstanding.
NM: From whose side?
MPM: From the other two parties, they do not want to discuss. They know very well, they do not want to discuss the proposed amendments on their merits, they are simply saying “we do not want to discuss”. That is political grandstanding.
A constitution is discussed. If one party says you did not record the views of the people correctly, why don’t they address it and argue that they did. Don’t simply say “because we had compromised”, but you were compromising the views of the people. None of us were right to compromise the views of the people and I have made an admission that I was wrong.
We were under pressure to break the deadlocks we had and we are back to a deadlock. We still need to find an answer that if the people want this, why did we write something different and they need to address the matter on merits. Any grandstanding and thinking that (South African President Jacob) Zuma will help solve the problem is lost.
Zimbabwe is not a colony of South Africa, Zuma has no executive powers in his facilitation role, he can only listen and say “guys talk”. He cannot tell us what should be in the constitution, so (hoping) for an external solution is child’s play, there is nothing like that.
NM: Now what do you think will be the way forward?
MPM: The way forward is that they must come back to the table, give us guidelines to negotiate if they want to do so or let them negotiate themselves as the principals. Whoever fears to talk, is a weak person because the President is saying “Tsvangirai, Ncube and Mutambara, here are the views from Zanu PF, let’s talk” and they are saying they do not want to talk, they want to declare a deadlock. Then after declaring a deadlock, what happens?
NM: That is my next question, what happens next?
MPM: If they refuse to talk then certainly we are going for elections on the basis of the old constitution. Copac would have collapsed.
NM: Now with Copac having been running for three years, do you think that’s the best outcome?
MPM: It will be sad, it will be a sad day. We would have gone 20 years back. We would be back to square one. We have denied the people an opportunity of writing their own constitution and yet we know exactly what people said.
Mind you the MDC-T has been objecting to us to release the formal statistical report showing what people said. If they are serious that they want a formal constitution, why are they refusing to publish what people said, because we should now be debating whether Zanu PF is being unreasonable in seeking those amendments, by putting the people’s views on one side and what the people are clamouring for on the other side.
Even (Douglas) Mwozora refused yesterday when we said let us put into the public domain what the people said, then we can engage in a meaningful debate whether there really is a deadlock.
Zanu PF is not being unreasonable, MDC is being unreasonable because the starting point is to publish the views of the people and compare with the draft. This is the exercise that Zanu PF went through and it got satisfied that in some instances we negotiated things that we should not have negotiated.
NM: Why do you think MDC-T does not want the statistical response to be made public?
MPM: They are refusing because they know that whatever views they had did not have resonance with the people. We wanted to put a clear clause that homosexuality should be prohibited, MDC-T refused and we had a deadlock over that. Then we said since there are no clauses which support homosexuality, let’s just leave it. But our party says 76% of the people we met said we will not take homosexuality, so say it in the constitution. And that’s one of the changes, which they are now refusing to look at.
NM: There is a view that Zanu PF wants to stall the constitution so that we go for an election with the Lancaster House constitution.
MPM: An election, whether on the basis of the old or new constitution, is neither here nor there. It is a question of the environment, under what environment elections are held. The constitution will not resolve the electoral process. It is not beneficial either for Zanu PF to go for an election under the current constitution or the new constitution, it does not change anything. It does not change the electoral platform. The amendments being done under the Electoral Act are more relevant to the holding of a new election rather than a constitution.
NM: There are suggestions that Jonathan Moyo engineered the downfall of the Copac draft, since he has been opposed to Copac from day one.
MPM: I do not buy that. He has had his views and has been criticising the process and it is an open secret that he has been criticising the process.
Where we are criticised for not following the views of the people, we would be giving him the benefit, if this had been his agenda. We must admit, if we did something wrong, then we must accept (criticism) and then correct it, that is leadership.
We were doing it in good faith and we were hoping that since we were having so many deadlocks; to break the deadlocks, let’s negotiate, but the party is saying we did something wrong as we were not supposed to negotiate views that the people had expressed. If in so doing, we have benefited Jonathan Moyo, then it’s coincidental.
NM: You had a very public spat with (Edward) Chindori-Chininga over Copac.
MPM: Those were internal party squabbles which I will not talk about and the matter was dealt with by the party effectively.
NM: Now moving to matters of factionalism within Zanu PF, there are some that say you were negotiating on behalf of Emmerson Mnangagwa and that’s why you came unstuck with the draft.
MPM: That is not true. I was negotiating on behalf of Zanu PF as a homogenous party. I haven’t seen it (factionalism). I see competition of interests in my party and in every party. Whenever you have democracy in any party, you have people supporting this candidate against that candidate and some people interpret that to be factionalism. It is not, it is competition for places and that is what democracy is all about.
NM: In the past you have been quoted saying very unpleasant words about Jonathan Moyo and Lovemore Madhuku over their criticism of Copac.
MPM: I have no problems with Lovemore Madhuku. He expressed his views from the beginning, that he was not going to support the constitution-making process and I have respected that view. With Professor Moyo, we have had our differences based on the way we saw things and in politics and in any democratic party, it’s allowed and we had to talk over them (differences) and right now we are in good books.
NM: Where do you think we are going with Copac and the constitution?
MPM: I think some sanity will prevail among those who think that we can have an external solution, they must come home, sit on the table and negotiate.
They will realise the folly of relying on external solutions. There is no one who will impose a constitution on the people of Zimbabwe. If Zuma seeks to impose a solution, it will not work. I am sure Zuma will see his role correctly and will encourage the parties to sit down and talk and I see that as the only way.
None of the parties can on its own drive a constitutional process successfully. This idea of grandstanding and saying my view will always prevail, will not work. We need a negotiated solution to the constitutional debate.