Zimbabwe’s quest for a new constitution was cast into further doubt Wednesday after the two Movement for Democratic Change formations rejected Zanu PF’s proposals to renegotiate the draft charter.
The long-delayed document was finally concluded a few weeks ago and signed by all the three unity government partners.
But President Robert Mugabe's party has since come up with a raft of amendments that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube - leaders of the rival MDC wings - reject.
Ncube said in a statement Wednesday he was astonished at the “sheer scale of disrespect, contempt, insult and audacity exhibited by the amendments.”
He added that the new proposals would make the new constitution worse than the widely-condemned Lancaster House constitution - Zimbabwe's founding charter.
Zanu PF wants devolution of power removed from the new charter, including a Peace and Reconciliation Commission, dual citizenship, and presidential running mates, among other issues.
The party also demands a mandatory National Youth Service and restoration of the executive powers of the president.
MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti slammed the Zanu PF proposals saying they fundamentally alter the final draft charter.
“We are disappointed," Biti said. "They have come up with proposals that will be met with one clear answer – 'No', which will clearly lead to the collapse of this thing,” Biti said.
“There should be no further negotiations on this constitution, and the people of Zimbabwe should now decide in a referendum.”
Regional leaders, exasperated by the continued bickering, resolved last week that South African President Jacob Zuma - the facilitator in the crisis - should be engaged to assist in resolving the constitutional logjam.
The Zuma intervention proposal is being supported by the two MDC formations. But Zanu PF is pushing back.
Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga told VOA Mr. Mugabe's party is dragging the process by making unrealistic changes.
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku, said the constitutional effort must be abandoned since it has now turned into a "circus" and the wrangles have become a "disgrace" to the country.
Madhuku said as demanded by his group, constitution-making must not be the business of politicians.
“They should abandon their three party program and subject the draft and materials to some separate committee in the country, They should set up an independent committee which can take up from where they have left,” Madhuku added.
Meanwhile, Mfundo Mlilo, director of the Combined Harare Residents Association said police barred his group Wednesday from holding consultative meetings with residents in Harare South to discuss the constitution and other issues.
The police, Mlilo said, argued that the meetings will disturb the ongoing country’s 2012 national population census.