President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team is expected in Zimbabwe Tuesday on a fresh mission to try and unlock the political logjam resulting from failure by the three parties in the unity government to find common ground on re-writing of the nation’s constitution.
In his report to the Troika meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) organ on politics, defence and security in Mozambique last week, Zuma had said it was impossible to “prescribe how to resolve parties’ differences over the draft".
But exasperated by the now three-year delay in writing the constitution, SADC leaders resolved that Mr. Zuma must actively engage the parties.
The South African president also said in his report that the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations had proposed that the parliamentary constitutional committee (COPAC) draft and the Zanu-PF draft be put before a referendum if the ruling parties fail to break the deadlock.
The coalition government is supposed to craft a new constitution as part of the roadmap to democratic elections, in accordance with the Global Political Agreement of September 2008.
SADC says it wants the referendum to be conducted in October and general elections by mid next year.
The dispute arose after the Zanu-PF politburo rejected the COPAC draft though its negotiators had appended their signatures. The party came with fresh proposals that have been rejected by the two MDC formations.
Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told the VOA his party will meet in a special politburo session to discuss the crisis.
MDC leader Welshman Ncube said Zanu-PF is negotiating in bad faith and they have communicated that position to the party.
Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the zanu PF proposal is “very insulting.”
In a wide-ranging interview, MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti told reporter Violet Gonda that there is “more than bad faith being reflected by Zanu PF.”
“As far as we are concerned there should be no further negotiations on this constitution and let the people of Zimbabwe be the referees in this matter through a referendum,” he said.
Biti added: “If Zanu PF insists on the current draft as it stands then I foresee months and months of attrition, of debilitating negative energy which will again throw this country backwards.”
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku said it is possible to put more than one constitution in a referendum.
Political analyst Dr. Brilliant Mhlanga of Westminster University in London told reporter Chris Gande the urgency of the SADC team does not show renewed interest in the Zimbabwean crisis.