By Tendai Mugabe
Professor Arthur Mutambara remains a Principal and Deputy Prime Minister in the inclusive Government, Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba has said. This is despite the decision taken by Sadc at its recent summit in Maputo, Mozambique, to recognise Professor Welshman Ncube as the leader of the MDC.
Mr Charamba told The Herald yesterday that Prof Ncube’s recognition by Sadc as leader of the MDC would not upgrade him to the status of Principal when it comes to Zimbabwe’s Government matters. He said DPM Mutambara would continue with his brief, including in the ongoing Constitution-making process.
“The long and short of all this is that Prof Mutambara remains a Principal in the same way Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is and the same way President Mugabe is. He remains so in spite of the Sadc decision, which relates to political parties anyway.”
Mr Charamba said Sadc stressed that for the purposes of its mediation assignments in Zimbabwe, it would now be dealing with leaders of political parties.
In this regard, Mr Charamba said there was a distinction between structures that mattered to Sadc for the purposes of its mediation and legally-constituted structures and designations that mattered to the Government of Zimbabwe for the purposes of operationalisation of the Global Political Agreement.
“This is to say that whereas Sadc concerns itself with political parties, the Government of Zimbabwe concerns itself with Principals. The notion of Principal is legally sticky in the governmental sense and addresses those persons whose hands (signatures) appear on the GPA and because of that, they become principals in Government,” he said.
Mr Charamba said it was unfortunate that the Sadc Summit decision in Maputo was being misinterpreted. “I suppose it’s because the distinction gets very fine for easy comprehension. What Sadc has done is to state and stress that it will only deal with leaders of political parties for purposes of its mediation assignment.
“In its reckoning, it disqualifies Prof Mutambara on grounds that he did not pass the test of being a leader of a political party. Whether Sadc is wrong or right on this matter, which I happen to know is still before the courts, it no longer matters. The issue is our sub-regional organisation has a position in respect of political parties that have a bearing in the Global Political Agreement.
“It (Sadc) is saying it shall be Robert Gabriel Mugabe representing Zanu-PF, Morgan Tsvangirai representing MDC-T and Professor Welshman Ncube representing the other MDC. That is for the purposes of Sadc consultations,” he said.
Mr Charamba said while Sadc was concerned with negotiators of the GPA, the Government worried itself with the Management Committee, which for reporting purposes was co-ordinated by Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga.
He said it was Minister Matinenga, in his capacity as chairman of the Management Committee at Government level, who delivered the draft Constitution to the GPA principals. Mr Charamba said the draft was initially delivered to President Mugabe and DPM Mutambara because PM Tsvangirai was abroad on Government business.
“What has happened to date is that the Copac team has concluded its consultations and originated a draft and as so demanded of it has submitted it to the Management Committee.
“The Management Committee in turn and through Minister Matinenga has submitted a reworked draft to the principals, initially to two that is President Mugabe and DPM Mutambara. PM Tsvangirai was away on Government business in the Far East and Euro-Asia but upon his return was given his copy.
“The expectation was that the principals will consult their respective constituencies in anticipation of a meeting of principals scheduled into the future. I believe this consultative process has been undertaken and albeit to different timetables with President Mugabe being the last one to finish.
“While the President has not favoured me with specific day or date, he has intimated to me that he will be asking fellow principals to attend the much-awaited meeting of principals to discuss the draft Constitution. I am sure each of the principals will be bringing to bear on the meeting concerns gathered from consultations I have alluded to.”
Mr Charamba said although the draft Constitution was submitted to principals by Minister Matinenga, there was a possibility that political party leaders could have received the same document from their negotiators who happened to be members of the Management Committee in Government.
“It was Minister Matinenga who delivered the draft document to the principals, that is President Mugabe, PM Tsvangirai and DPM Mutambara.”
“But the three may very well have received the same document from their negotiators who are part of the Management Committee in Government, namely, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche for Zanu-PF, Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma for MDC-T and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses Mzila-Ndlovu for the other MDC.
“It is very important that we do not confuse submission of the same document done to political party leaders by their negotiators and submission done to principals who may not be leaders of political parties but leaders in Government,” he said.
It is expected that after the principals have discussed the draft Constitution and assuming that there is consensus, it would be taken to the Second All Stakeholders Conference where it will be subjected to further debate. The draft will then be taken to Parliament, which could as well make changes to it.
From Parliament the document will be given to President Mugabe under the Referendums Act, which empowers him as the Head of State and Government to take it to the people for a referendum. The MDC formations have adopted the document in its current form and want it taken to the Second All-Stakeholders Conference as it is.
But Zanu-PF claims it has audited the document against the national report which contained the views raised by the people during the outreach programme.
The party proposed a raft of amendments to the draft before it is taken to the Second All Stakeholders Conference. Zanu-PF argues that so many critical issues are missing in the draft, while matters not captured in the national report were smuggled into the document.
Some of the contentious issues raised by Zanu-PF are same-sex marriages, running mates, the creation of the national prosecuting authority and the draft Constitution’s silence on the land issue.
Douglas Mwonzora from the MDC-T has meanwhile suggested that a long drawn out battle could be ahead, by declaring that the draft doesn’t have to be satisfactory to ZANU PF or to any political party, insisting the people of Zimbabwe will have a major say on that.
‘ZANU PF has no right to alter the draft, amend the draft or to review the work of COPAC. They (COPAC) do not report to ZANU PF. If they are unhappy about anything, then they must take that to the Second All Stakeholders’ conference and not try to adulterate the people’s views,’ Mwonzora said.
The MDC-T MP for Nyanga North claimed the constitutional process has simply become a battleground within ZANU PF’s factional infighting to control the party. ‘This fight is a manifestation of deep seated factionalism. It’s not a genuine desire to have a constitution that is gripping ZANU PF but underhand manoeuvres to wrest control of the party,’ he said.
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