Zimbabwe’s constitution making process has stalled again over a number of issues including allegations that a draft leaked by the media protects gay rights.
Hardliners in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF want the exercise that began last year abandoned claiming the parliamentary body leading the process ignored people’s views.
The Zanu-PF officials have taken issue with a reference to “non discrimination on circumstances of birth” in the draft leaked last week.
Former Information minister Jonathan Moyo accused the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) of using “trickery and deceit” to protect homosexuality.
“It is scandalously revealing that the latest Copac draft constitution released last week has resorted to trickery and deceit in a desperate but ill fated attempt to retain and homosexuality,” Prof Moyo, a senior Zanu-PF official told state media on Tuesday.
“They are mischievously hiding it under the cover of a new seemingly innocuous and yet loaded phrase of ‘circumstance of birth’ which has replaced the roundly rejected phrase of ‘natural difference.”
In February, the drafters came under attack from Zanu-PF after a leaked draft constitution was published by state media outlawing discrimination on the grounds of “natural difference.”
“What is very offensive about this is that the people of Zimbabwe specifically and vociferously rejected the constitutional protection of homosexuality during the Copac outreach programme,” Prof Moyo claimed.
Copac has distanced itself from both drafts saying the published material was obtained from stolen documents.
The body made up of Harare’s three governing parties says the drafting of the new constitution is not yet complete as they parties are still to reach an agreement on provisions for devolution of power and dual citizenship.
Zanu-PF officials claim the new constitution is aimed at weakening President Mugabe’s powers.
Mr Mugabe says homosexuals are worse than dogs and pigs.
He also accuses Western leaders of trying to force Africans to embrace homosexuality and analysts say Zanu-PF is using the alleged clause to sabotage the constitution making process.
Former Attorney General Andrew Chigovera dismissed the claims that the clause would be used to promote homosexuality.
“If provisions are written in such a way that is susceptible to many interpretations, then we may have problems but as far as I understand this clause, it is not about homosexuality but the manner in which one is born,” he said.
“We may have a situation where one is born by an insane person and those are the circumstances or birth that are being talked about.
“We already have a provision for marriage being between people of opposite sex so it is not possible for someone to claim homosexuality is provided for.
“The only thing gays can do is to argue that the provision on marriage is discriminator in the sense that it talks of people being of opposite sex.”
The completion of the constitution making process will pave way for fresh elections.