Forecasting Zimbabwe's political landscape

On February 6, Zimbabwe's parliament unanimously adopted the proposed constitution tabled by the Constitution Select Committee of Parliament (COPAC), comprising the three coalition government parties in Zimbabwe.

This outcome was expected as the leaders of the three parties - Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations - last month ended more than three years of acrimonious debate by striking a deal on a compromise constitution. This raised the question of whether the constitution-making process had been hijacked by political leaders.

While COPAC insists the proposed charter is based upon Zimbabweans' views gathered during the outreach phase of the constitution-making process, there remains concern that the need to bargain and compromise in order to accommodate divergent party interests may have resulted in a give-and-take constitution that does not mirror the national soul. Officials say the draft constitution will be voted on by referendum by the end of March, to allow Zimbabweans to decide whether the draft reflects their views. But the referendum is likely to be a mere formality given that the three governing parties have endorsed the draft constitution. This referendum will in turn set the stage for elections, probably during the course of this year, in line with the SADC-mediated Global Political Agreement (GPA) of September 2008. Following the disputed 2008 elections, ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations had to enter the power-sharing agreement to avoid plunging the country deeper into conflict over the electoral results.

Editor's Comment
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