By Godwills Masimirembwa and Jacob Mudenda.
Hon Douglas Mwonzora COPAC Co-Chairman, in his opinion piece carried in the www.newzimbabwe.com
and in the Financial Gazette of Thursday 5 January made serious, malicious and unfounded allegation against us regarding the leaking of Copac National Report and on the content of our legal opinionÂ to Hon Mangwana.
We have no appetite to get into a dogfight with Hon Mwonzora regarding his unfounded allegations against us.
However, suffice to say that we did not leak any material to the press and we challenge Mwonzora to produce evidence to support his claims.
The two above-mentioned publications is our evidence that Hon Mwonzora has leaked Copac issues to the press without the consent of his fellow co-chairpersons.
We will not, once again, get into hair splitting arguments on how Copacâ€™s internal procedures must function, but we would want to get into the main issues which are of public interests.
It is our respectful submission that debate must focus on the content of the Draft 4 Constitutional Chapters, the Drafterâ€™s notes and our legal opinion.
For completeness of this debate and in fairness to readers and to enable informed discussion, we avail the four chapters so far drafted and our critique as fully displayed on this link: http://talkzimbabwe.com/?p=2337
Mwonzora’s reply read on its own without juxtaposing it against the four chapters so far drafted and our critique makes no sense.
In fact, Mwonzora avoided commenting on the real and substantive issues of the Constitution that we raised. His comments on constitutional issues are restricted to our comment on minorities.
He says nothing about the Drafters providing for gay and lesbian rights, abolishing the deathÂ penalty, expanding the definition of citizenship by birth to include citizenship by descent, and then allowing dual citizenship on Zimbabweans who acquire citizenship by birth.
Clearly this provision on citizenship is meant to allow descendants of our former colonisers who are not citizens of Zimbabwe, but of other countries to also automatically assumeÂ the citizenship of our country. He does not say anything about the Drafters making only English, Shona and Ndebele the only official languages, with English only being the language of record, relegating other languages’ recognition to the pleasure of Parliament.
He says nothing about the Drafters only according war veterans respect, but not providing for their welfare and affirmative action to improve their economic situation after having suffered deprivation during the years they sacrificed their lives for the liberation of our country.
It is clear from Mwonzora’s reply that the Drafters were not given the National Report which he chooses to call the National Statistical Report. The documents that were availed to the Drafters according toÂ Mwonzora are the Agreed Constitutional Issues and the Constitutional Framework.
The Agreed Constitutional issues and the framework can hardlyÂ constitute instructions to the Drafters. These are bare bones without the flesh.
Mwonzora wants to avoid the issue of frequency because he does not want the constitution to be based on the preponderant views of the people. He wants to use the bare bones to then fill in the fleshÂ using his own values rather than the values of the people.
Thus, if Mwonzora is correct about the documents availed to the Drafters, it is not surprising that the four chapters are not premised on the values of the Zimbabwean masses.
It would be interesting to know from Mwonzora if it is COPAC which instructed the Drafters to abolish the death penalty,Â to provide for homosexuality, to provide only for English, Shona and Ndebele as the official languages, with English being the only language of record?
Is it COPAC which instructed the Drafters to expand the meaning of citizenship by birth to include citizenship by descent and thereafter allow dual citizenship for the now combined two categories of citizens?
Is it COPAC which instructed the Drafters to provide just for respect for war veterans and avoid providing for their welfare and affirmative action in their favour?
Some questions which were posed to Zimbabweans during outreach required direct scoring, for example people were asked whether they liked dual citizenship or not.
Surely the preponderant answer is the one that mustÂ be contained in the constitution and in this case the people rejected dual citizenship?
Some questions required qualitative answers so that even if a certain question got a low frequency its relevance and importance in the constitution would require that it be included in the constitution.
This would achieve the inclusivity as contemplated by article VI of the Global Political Agreement which is an appendix to Amendment No. 19 to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Critically what one discerns from Mwonzora’s reply is that he does not want the people of Zimbabwe’s values to be the imperative in the drafting process. He wants the bare bones and then to import the values fromÂ elsewhere.
This is contrary to the provisions of article VI of the Global Political Agreement which enjoins “The Zimbabwean people to make a constitution by themselves and for themselves”.
On the issue of the National Report which records the views of the people of Zimbabwe the simple and honourable thing for COPAC to do is to publish it before drafting commences.
COPAC has been advertising in the media that it heard the people of Zimbabwe and is now drafting the constitution using what they said. Instead of spending money telling the people what it heard why it not just publishes the report so that the people can see for themselves that indeed COPAC heard them.
This is the transparency that Mwonzora is strenuouslyÂ fighting against for the obvious reason that it will expose the four chapters so drafted as not being based on the views of the people.
If the National Report is not yet ready, how is COPAC able to instruct the Drafters, for surely the drafting instructions should be on the basis of a completed report on the views of the people proffered on the different thematic topics.
But what we do know is that the National Report is ready and we as members of the Technical Team have made reference to it during the course of our work. Indeed our terms of reference enjoined us to use the NationalÂ Report.
Those in the Zanu PF Technical Committee have insisted andÂ shall continue to insist that frequencies are critical in determining the values that the people of Zimbabwe want recorded, promoted and protected by the constitution.
Failure to use them essentially means the Drafters will be left to draft the constitution underpinned by their own valueÂ systems which may not coincide with those of Zimbabweans as is clear from a reading of the four chapters they have so far drafted.
The opinions expressed in this article are the authorâ€™s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
Godwills Masimirembwa and Jacob Mudenda are members of the Zanu PF Technical Team.