Moyo criticises Zimbabwe's draft constitution

Jonathan Moyo.

Jonathan Moyo.

Moyo has launched a strident critique has come just ahead of the country’s upcoming elections, the date of which is yet to be determined.

A draft constitution, released on July 19 by the select committee of Parliament on the New Constitution (Copac) is currently awaiting approval from the three political parties at the negotiating table, Zanu-PF, and two formations of the MDC: the MDC and MDC-T.

While the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangarai is reported to have said on Saturday that the draft constitution is "the best document so far since 1896", Moyo said at a briefing convened by the Institute of Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) on Tuesday that, "this is not a draft constitution, it is a political pamphlet".

He described the document as a collation and cut and paste of ideas from the constitutions of various other countries, from South Sudan, Kenya to South Africa. His chief complaint against the draft is the extent of separation of powers it envisages.

While cloaking reform in language of an administrative "devolution of powers," the draft curtails the powers of the executive in relation to the legislature and judiciary. It also limits central control at a regional level.

"While recognising that Zimbabwe is a unitary state, it proceeds to turn it into a federal state," he said.

Moyo believes federal states are only workable where the central state was formed from regional political entities such as in the United States.
But in Zimbabwe, provinces were created by the state as administrative regions.

Moyo also criticised the continued presence of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the coalition government. He compared it to a marriage counsellor who refuses to leave the bedroom of a couple that he has just advised. "The relationship has not been consummated because there is a stranger in the bedroom," he said.

He contrasted this interventionist style with Kofi Annan’s efforts to form a unity government in Kenya in 2008. After setting up the government, Annan rightly left Kenya to "get on with governance".

Moyo attacked the informal negotiating forum of the country's Global Political Agreement as having undermined institutional structures of governance. Because high level political discussions by-passed Cabinet, the ministries and parastatals ordinarily guided by it have been running on "autopilot".

"We have become a do-it-yourself society," he said. 

Moyo conceded to faction-like differences within Zanu-PF. But he said that the party’s liberation movement ideology inevitably promotes unity. "If we were a party of factions," he said, "we would not spend 18 hours on this issue because there would be blood on the floor."

But Moyo praised the agreement's role in the relationship shift between the three political parties from one of "sworn enemies to political opponents". He said this redefined relationship holds promising prospects for the smooth running of the upcoming national elections.

Moyo said Zanu-PF would like elections to be held sooner rather than later. He cited as reasons to have the elections quite soon, "the need to resolve the dysfunctionality of the political agreement and to avoid the rainy months of March".

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