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Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Tough Road Ahead For Zimbabwe’s New Constitution

Tough Road Ahead For Zimbabwe’s New Constitution

Peta Thornycroft | Harare  May 17, 2011

Zimbabwe’s main political parties are at odds again, this time over the 
process of transferring public opinion into 17 clauses of the proposed new 
constitution. About a million people attended some 5,000 public meetings 
last year, and President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party says its supporters’ 
views dominated this outreach program and should therefore determine the 
content of the new charter.

A last-minute compromise between ZANU-PF and MDC was negotiated last week so 
that both the quantity and quality of views expressed at the outreach 
program will be represented in the new constitution.

Crispen Mutungwazi, a supporter of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s 
Movement for Democratic Change, the largest political party in Zimbabwe, 
said the constitution is for all the people of Zimbabwe, not just ZANU-PF, 
even if more of its supporters contributed to the public outreach program 
last year.

“As MDC we are a democratic party,” said Mutungwazi. “The constitution is 
supposed to represent the wishes of the people not of a particular party, 
whether your view is ZANU-PF and whether your view is MDC.”

He said he hoped the new charter would represent the people’s views, from 
both MDC and ZANU-PF, and the constitutional clauses, such as a bill of 
rights, would not end up “being hammered out at the negotiating table.”

Paul Mangwana, ZANU-PF’s co-chairperson of the parliamentary committee which 
has run the constitution-making process, said ZANU-PF prepared carefully for 
the public outreach program to be sure the party’s views dominated the 

“ZANU-PF thoroughly planned for the outreach, we started by crafting a 
document of their views, and the views they hold dear, this they 
disseminated to their structures engaged in pre-outreach meetings where 
people understood the views of the party,” said Mangwana.

The MDC co-chairperson, Douglas Mwonzora, who is also a legislator in the 
27-month-old inclusive government, says the quality of the public’s input at 
the outreach program was more important than the numbers of those who 
attended. He said many from ZANU-PF were forced to attend the public 
meetings, but conceded that the MDC had not mobilized its supporters to 

“This exercise was not a quantitative exercise, so the numbers didn’t really 
matter, it is a qualitative exercise,” said Mwonzora. “After seeing that 
people were being coerced we then said there is no voting at the meetings. 
We recorded the views that came out, it is impossible to say this is a 
majority view or a minority view in important questions, so the MDC position 
was not as dominating as it should have been because they didn’t take it 
seriously, but there were a few brave people who spoke and their position is 
coming out.”

The constitution-making process was delayed in February when Mwonzora was 
arrested and charged with public violence, charges he denies.

Phineas Zimuto, a supporter of the small MDC, the third political party in 
the inclusive government, says ZANU-PF supporters who attended the outreach 
program had been instructed to present their party’s views by their leaders, 
particularly in rural areas.

“The main advantage which ZANU-PF wants to take is that during the outreach 
programs when we were visiting the rural areas they used to bus people and 
they also used to tell people what to say as compared with what happened in 
the urban areas.” said Zimuto.

He said the outreach meetings were not elections on what to put into the new 

“So for us having a quantitative approach will not work, because this is not 
a voting process. What we just want to hear is to take the views of the 
people, what they said, no matter who said that or the number of people who 
said the same statement,” added Zimuto.

A ZANU-PF supporter, Newton Matutu, who lives 250 kilometers south of 
Harare, says more ZANU-PF supporters, particularly in the rural areas, 
contributed opinions about what the party wants in a new charter, than the 
MDC. He said if the ZANU-PF views were not included in the new charter, it 
would be unfair.

“Our party has got so many supporters in the rural areas so their voices 
were supposed to be heard and not just the people in the urban areas,” he 
said. “We don’t care what MDC is going to say at the end of the day, because 
it is what the people said that we are really concerned about.”

The multi-party political agreement which brought the inclusive government 
to power in February 2009 spelled out that a new constitution must be 
created before the next elections.

The process has been delayed by shortage of funds, political party 
squabbles, some violence in Harare last year, and complex logistics of 
arranging thousands of meetings around the country.

Some analysts say at the end of the day, the new charter will emerge from 
negotiations.  Currently, 17 multi-party committees are meeting to thrash 
out each of the 17 clauses which will make up the new constitution.

Few expect a draft to be ready for a referendum before September this year.

If a majority of people reject the new constitution, Zimbabwe will carry on 
under its present, much amended charter which came into operation at 
independence in 1980.



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