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Coltart wanted civil society to be involved in constitution making

Education Minister David Coltart who represented the Movement for Democratic Change-Mutambara faction in the constitution making process told a visiting United States congressional delegation that though funding was a problem, lack of dialogue between political parties and opposition to the process from elements of civil society who thought that they should have a larger role, were other obstacles.

He said that said during the 2000 referendum which inflicted the first national defeat on the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front’s efforts to come up with a new constitution civil society and the opposition were united.

It was therefore necessary to bring in civil society groups such as the National Constitutional Assembly, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade unions And the Zimbabwe National Students Union into the constitution making process as they currently opposed the parliamentary-led process.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE721, ZIM PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS DISCUSS CONSTITUTIONAL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE721

2009-09-10 15:09

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0721/01 2531509

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 101509Z SEP 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4887

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3018

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3133

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1562

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2396

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2763

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3181

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5626

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2309

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000721

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN

DEPT FOR AF/RSA KMOODY

STATE PASS TO HOUSE FOR STEPHANE LEBOUDER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/10/2019

TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZIM PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS DISCUSS CONSTITUTIONAL

AND POLITICAL CHALLENGES

 

REF: A. HARARE 720

B. HARARE 707

 

Classified By: CDA Donald K. Petterson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) On September 3, a panel of parliamentary leaders

updated a visiting Congressional delegation on Zimbabwe’s

process to draft a new constitution and key issues affecting

Parliament. Discussion centered around the need to unite

stakeholders to craft a constitution that would gain the

support of the public by enshrining principles such as the

separation of powers. Another topic of concern was the

selective and politically motivated application of the rule

of law against parliamentarians. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) The Codel, which also met with President Robert Mugabe

(Ref B) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (Ref A), was led

by Representative Greg Meeks (D-NY), and included

Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Sheila Jackson-Lee

(D-TX), Jack Kingston (R-GA), and Melvin Watt (D-NC). The

Charge was also present at the meeting at the Parliament

building in Harare.

 

——————————————

Problems Facing the Constitutional Process

——————————————

 

3. (C) The discussion was mediated by the Speaker of the

House of Assembly, Lovemore Moyo (MDC-T), and began with an

update of the constitutional drafting process by the three

co-chairs of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the

Constitution, Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T), Paul Mangwana

(ZANU-PF) and David Coltart (MDC-M). Mwonzora pointed to a

lack of funding as the greatest impediment to a new

constitution. Aside from the USD 2 million UNDP grant which

had largely funded the All Stakeholder’s Conference in July,

he said the rest of the process was unbudgeted and would

require an additional USD 9 million from either government or

donors. He explained the Committee had now entered a

consultative phase whereby the 17 thematic sub-committees —

dealing with subjects ranging from the role of women to labor

to separation of powers — would elicit feedback from

Zimbabweans across the country. However, (unspecified)

delays had put the process one month behind schedule. On

funding, Mangwana made the case that the government should be

the principal funder of the process to ensure the result was

driven by Zimbabweans and not external parties.

 

4. (C) Coltart agreed that funding was an issue, but

candidly said that a lack of dialogue between the political

parties and opposition to the process from elements of civil

society, who think they should have a larger role, were other

obstacles. He reminded the Codel of the 2000 referendum that

attempted to significantly alter the Lancaster House

Constitution and how the opposition had united in rejection

of it. He cited that case as an example of the necessity of

drawing in civil society groups )- such as the National

Qdrawing in civil society groups )- such as the National

Constitutional Assembly (NCA), elements of the Zimbabwe

Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Zimbabwe National

Students Union (ZINASU) )- that currently oppose the

parliamentary-led process.

 

————————–

Biased Rule of Law Remains

 

HARARE 00000721 002 OF 002

 

 

————————–

 

5. (C) Both Coltart and Mangwana responded to a question on

the selective application of the rule of law against members

of the MDC-T. Coltart made a case for his objectivity on the

issue, as none of the MPs of MDC-M had been persecuted. He

said without looking at the merits of the individual cases,

the one-sided nature of the arrests was having a polarizing

effect on Parliament. He worried that there was little

Parliament could do to protect itself other than debate a

motion on the matter and push for an investigation into the

conduct of the Attorney General’s office.

 

6. (C) Mangwana defended the arrests and maintained that

Zimbabwe had a functioning judiciary, while conceding that

the appointment of judges and their autonomy ought to be

revisited. He argued that there was a common perception that

the MDC-T MPs had been arrested for “just doing their jobs.”

This was inaccurate as they had i fact been charged with

serious offenses including rape and fraud. “Shouldn’t the

rule of law be applied in these cases?” he asked. Coltart

countered that there was a history of selective application

of the law in Zimbabwe, and the fact that 100 percent of the

arrested were MDC-T MPs highlighted the “fragility of the

government.” Coltart also cited the lack of arrests in the

recent cases of suspected arson against two white commercial

farmers who had resisted leaving their farms as further

evidence of the partisan application of the law.

 

———————————

The Need for Separation of Powers

———————————

 

7. (C) Congresswoman Jackson-Lee made the case for the

necessity of a separation of powers with a strong legislative

branch to counter the executive branch, and invited the panel

to discuss the issue. Coltart and Mwonzora agreed while

Mangwana was silent. Coltart was well informed on the

history of the U.S. constitution and agreed that separation

of powers was pivotal. He said that President Mugabe had

extensive de facto appointment powers and that this had led

to the degradation of the judiciary. Mwonzora warned that

even a good constitution was no guarantee of good governance.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

8. (C) The presence of all three parties on the panel led to

a respectful and at times cautious discussion of some thorny

issues, such as the causes of constitutional delays and

selective prosecutions. For instance, the point was never

made that ZANU-PF was holding up the constitutional process

by not submitting its sub-committee representatives. More

positively, the ability of MPs from all three parties to

engage in productive discourse was an encouraging sign and

supports our belief that Parliament can be a forum for

political cooperation. END COMMENT.

 

9. (SBU) Codel Meeks did not have an opportunity to clear

Q9. (SBU) Codel Meeks did not have an opportunity to clear

this message before departing Harare.

 

PETTERSON

(4 VIEWS)

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