|Tendai Biti exposes Tsvangirai|
|Saturday, 08 September 2012 21:53|
Sunday Mail Reporter
It has emerged that Mr Biti came up with the idea in a bid to prevent Mr Tsvangirai from playing any negotiating role in the finalisation of the draft, apparently because the secretary-general and his faction believe the MDC-T leader has no capacity to negotiate with President Mugabe.
The Sunday Mail has learnt from authoritative sources within the MDC-T that Mr Biti’s contempt of Tsvangirai’s negotiating capacity and his commitment to fellow GPA negotiators to defend the July 18 Copac draft “by all means necessary” prompted the ambitious Finance Minister to “convince” Mr Tsvangirai into writing a patently false letter whose unintended but damaging consequence has been to misinform and mislead Presidents Jacob Zuma and Jakaya Kikwete, who were copied the letter, into thinking that GPA principals and their parties have no role in the draft ostensibly because it is a parliamentary process when the opposite is the factual and legal position.
The well-placed MDC-T sources with close links within the Sadc diplomatic community in Harare, who spoke to The Sunday Mail yesterday on condition of anonymity, said that some influential members of Tsvangirai’s so-called “kitchen cabinet”, which is believed to be co-ordinated by Ian Makone through the Prime Minister’s office, have been riled by the blatantly false and misleading contents of the letter drafted by Mr Biti in his capacity as both party secretary-general and chief GPA negotiator. Mr Biti is also a lawyer by profession.
According to these sources, the real purpose of Mr Tsvangirai’s letter to President Mugabe written by Mr Biti and copied to Presidents Zuma and Kikwete is not to declare any deadlock at all — and they say the letter does not in fact do that as claimed in the media — but to remove the MDC-T leader from having anything to do with the writing of the draft constitution.
It is understood that to achieve his objective of keeping Mr Tsvangirai out of any direct involvement in the Copac draft, Mr Biti decided on the advice of the Copac donors co-ordinated by the UNDP whose behind-the- scenes role has been controversial to create the false impression that “the constitution-making process in general and the July 18 Copac draft in particular are parliamentary processes which the GPA principals must not interfere with”.
During several interviews yesterday, this newspaper established that Mr Biti’s claim that the Copac draft is a parliamentary process which must not be touched by GPA principals and their political parties is not only false but also new and is in fact the reason why the letter was copied to Presidents Zuma and Kikwete in a desperate but ill-fated attempt to get them to support a falsehood with the very high risk of embarrassing themselves down the line.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora, who has been hyping up Mr Tsvangirai’s letter in the media over the past week and who is thought to belong to Mr Biti’s faction, confirmed its contents yesterday in a telephone interview.
Echoing a line that has become Mr Biti’s default script since the draft was released on July 18 by Copac’s management committee made up of GPA negotiators, Mr Mwonzora said Mr Tsvangirai’s letter makes it clear that “Zanu-PF amendments are not acceptable and GPA principals cannot interfere with the writing of the draft at this stage” because it is Parliament which will enact the law, without explaining why Copac moved out of Parliament in October 2009.
“The Constitution is a law just like any other law. So it is a parliamentary process and not an Executive one”, thundered Mwonzora.
Mr Mwonzora also claimed that “after the Copac management committee resolved the issues it sent the draft constitution to Copac.
Asked to confirm whether Copac was factually or officially a parliamentary process as claimed by Mwonzora in support of Tsvangirai’s August 30 letter crafted by Mr Biti, the Clerk of Parliament Mr Austin Zvoma said the constitution-making process is not a parliamentary process because Copac is not managed by Parliament and Copac business is not listed on the Order Papers at both the Senate and the House of Assembly as would happen if the process was under Parliament.
“The constitution-making process is not a parliamentary process at all. For it to be a parliamentary process, its structure and composition should be 100 percent parliamentary in nature. In Parliament we have portfolio committees and thematic committees that regularly report to Parliament during the course of their work and at the end of their work.
“Copac was not being managed within Parliament, its resources were not drawn from Parliament and its business was not reflecting on the Order Paper both at Senate and at the House of Assembly. The Copac select committee was withdrawn from Parliament and its operations have remained outside Parliament.
“The management committee of Copac which came up with the Copac Draft Constitution on July 18 was set up by the GPA Principals and not by Parliament. If Copac was a parliamentary process, the principals would not have appointed the members of the management committee. They would have only made recommendations to Parliament if Copac was a parliamentary process,” said Mr Zvoma.
“. . . the (GPA) principals had written a letter to the Presiding Officers of Parliament outlining the new management structure for the Select Committee (Copac) outside of Parliament”.
Parliament made the following important submission to Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners representing the applicants which was accepted by the court, “We would like to put it on record that Parliament of Zimbabwe was wrongly cited.
“According to your papers, the third respondent, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, wrote a letter requesting Copac to relieve the applicants from their constitution-making duties.
“Article 6 of the Interparty Political Agreement of September 15, 2011 created Copac in the following terms: ‘the Parties hereby agree that they shall set up a Select Committee of Parliament composed of representatives of the Parties whose terms of reference shall be as follows . . .’
“Neither the Constitution nor the Standing Orders provide for these structures. Copac has its own secretariat, premises and procedures completely delinked from Parliament. You would also appreciate that even the National Budget provides for totally different votes for Copac and Parliament of Zimbabwe.
“Unlike Copac, Committees of Parliament are created in terms of House of Assembly Orders 154 to 158. In terms of the said Standing Orders, a Committee of Parliament, be it permanent or ad hoc, is created by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee, which shall ‘frame rules relating to the conduct of business in committees’ or give the Committee the terms of reference. As you are aware, this does not apply to Copac, which is a clear indication that Copac is not a Committee of Parliament”.
Observers and legal experts familiar with this background and Mr Tsvangirai’s August 30 letter drafted by Mr Biti said there can be no doubt on factual and legal grounds that as an expression of the GPA, Copac is neither a parliamentary nor a legally mandated process but is entirely a political process necessarily controlled and directed by the GPA principals and their political parties.
“The GPA is a political thing. However, it’s worth noting that Article XX is part of the law and is a solid legal foundation of the composition of the current Government,” he said.
“Only Article XX is part of the law. Everything else about the GPA, including Copac, is political,” said Mr Samkange. A senior Zanu-PF politburo member told The Sunday Mail yesterday that on the basis of what has been reported in the media Tsvangirai’s August 30 letter crafted by Mr Biti was not worth commenting on or responding to because it is not worth the paper it is written on.