Zanu (PF) And MDC Reach Compromised Deal Over New Constitution Process

The constitutional process stalled this week, with the two MDC formations abandoning it over disagreements on whether to use the quantitative or qualitative approach to analyse data gathered during the outreach programme. The programme was spearheaded by the Constitutional Parliament Select Committee (COPAC), the parliamentary body charged with facilitating the writing of a new constitution to replace the present Lancaster House document.

The deal was reached to allow the process, which is key to holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, to move forward. Insiders in COPAC told Radio VOP on Friday that a hybrid tool will be developed to enable the thematic committees to proceed with analysis of the data collected during controversial outreach programmes in which a life was lost in Mbare, Harare’s oldest and poorest township.

“The hybrid tool will be submitted to technical advisors and others involved in the crafting of the new constitution. This will ensure at least that there is progress,” said a source privy to the goings-on around the drafting of the new supreme law of the land.

However, Paul Mangwana (Zanu PF), Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Edward Mkhosi (MDC), the COPAC co-chairpersons confirmed to journalists that an agreement had been reached to collapse three meetings in a rural ward into one in order to equalise the disparity between urban and rural wards.

“Where there was more than one meeting in an urban ward, or in any other ward these shall also be collapsed into one,” the three said in a prepared statement.

“The analysis of the rural data will be done separately from the urban. Frequencies or preponderance will not be the absolute determinant of popularity or importance of an agreed concept.”

Both quantitative and qualitative approaches will be applied in the data analysis, COPAC said.

“Where we use both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis, none shall take precedence over the other,” it added.

In the quantitative approach, key attributes will include attendance, gender, youth, disability and atmosphere of meeting.

All the reports that had already been done would be revised to take into account the new qualitative dimensions.

The constitution-making process, which has stalled in the year or so due to political squabbling coupled with a severe financial squeeze, temporarily came to a stalemate on Wednesday.

The two MDC formations were reportedly against the quantitative approach mainly because the rural areas, where Zanu (PF) coerced people to push its agenda held more meetings compared to urban areas where people were allowed to freely express their views. The urban wards were accorded one meeting per ward.

The thematic committee meetings started on May 2, 2011 and were expected to run until May 18, 2011 after which the constitution making process would move to the drafting stage. The drafting of the new constitution is already well-behind schedule.

A referendum on the new constitution is expected towards the end of the year leading to fresh elections which Zanu (PF) wants this year while the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC wants them in 2012 or by by 2013 after a roadmap on elections by Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been finalised.