Speaking at a Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe-sponsored dialogue in Harare on 30 Aug 2012 co-chairperson of the Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC), Honourable Member of Parliament from ZANU-PF, Paul Munyaradzi Mangwana distanced himself from the Draft Constitution released as a COPAC draft on 18 July 2012. Although Mangwana put his initials on the Draft Constitution, he argues that he never signed it .It is important to understand what it means to put one’s initials on any document or rather what it means to make any mark on a document.
The use of Paul Mangwana’s initials does not invalidate the signature as he may assume. The term signature has been generally understood as making a mark with one’s own hand but it is not compulsory that the mark be actually made by hand for it to be legally valid. Neither is it mandatory for the mark to be a commonly used sign, mark or signature. Variations between the signature and the name also do not invalidate the instrument. This means that when COPAC co-chairperson Paul Mangwana put his mark on the constitution draft, it was signifying his acceptance, approval and knowledge of the draft.
Paul Mangwana’s reasons for not using his “normal” signature are that he just wanted to show acknowledgement of the development of the constitutional draft, not to say that he accepted or approved of the details within the draft. His failure to mention his reasons for putting his initials prior to signing the draft, results in him being bound to it as one who accepted the draft by the act of appending his initials.
Mangwana has often defended the constitution making process even to the point of labelling his colleague, Jonathan Moyo “crazy”. As a lawyer, surely Mangwana understood the implications of his actions. The only plausible explanation for his turn-about could be that he is under political pressure from his own party, ZANU-PF to discredit the draft as it contains many positions that the party does not agree with.
Be careful what you mark, it may bind you!