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bickering derails Constitution process
Loughty Dube, Zimbabwe Independent
January 28, 2010
Serious bickering and
wrangling by the three political parties in the inclusive government
on the selection of rapporteurs, accountability of donor funds and
the role of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have
put off track the constitution-making process.
problems, Zanu PF has launched a parallel outreach programme for
the constitution-making process designed to coach people to come
up with a constitution similar to the Kariba
Draft, which was strongly opposed by the MDC formations and
Impeccable sources told
the Zimbabwe Independent this week that there was also a battle
to take charge and control the process between the Constitution
Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) and the management committee
of the process.
The UNDP on Monday met
with Copac and later with the management committee on Wednesday
where a decision was made to amend the original funding agreement
made with the donor organisation.
The organisation had
pledged to bankroll the outreach programme of the constitution-making
process to the tune of US$18 million, but the funding was put on
ice amid allegations that some earlier disbursements were not properly
It also emerged this
week that the UNDP was not happy with the talking points Copac came
up with, with suggestions that they were influenced by Zanu PF.
The sources said the
fight between Copac and the management committee, co-chaired by
Tendai Biti from MDC-T, Welshman Ncube from MDC and Patrick Chinamasa
from Zanu PF, was likely to further delay the commencement of the
outreach programme to gather the views of the people.
committee that is composed of the negotiators from the three parties
feels it has more powers than Copac and the cancellation of the
UNDP project document is an example of the mistrust that the two
bodies have for each other," said one of the sources.
Last week, Zanu PF's
vice-president Joice Mujuru launched a nationwide outreach programme
in Mt Darwin, ostensibly to educate people on the constitution-making
Party sources said the
programme was meant to result in a constitution similar to the Kariba
Draft written by Zanu PF and the two MDC formations in 2007 during
talks to end the country's political crisis.The Kariba Draft was
rejected as the sole reference document to the current process.
The sources said donors
had also expressed concern that Zanu PF had influenced the crafting
of talking points and was pushing for the redrafting of the questions
to be put to the people during the outreach programme. The donors,
the sources said, feared that through the talking points Zanu PF
was planning to introduce the Kariba Draft by another name through
the back door.
"Zanu PF used its
teams on the ground during the training programme for outreach purposes
and they infiltrated all the thematic teams and influenced the imposition
of their draft questions into the questionnaire," said another
The source said donors
were also concerned about the use and accountability of funds they
have channelled towards the constitution-making-process so far.
The sources said the
donors expressed concern that the number of outreach teams doubled
after a training workshop a fortnight ago.
The donors allegedly
raised concerns over the budget of the constitution-making process
after Copac agreed to involve all members of the House of Assembly
and Senate in the outreach programme.
Only 50 MPs were initially
supposed to participate in the outreach programme but after protests
from the legislators and their political parties, it was agreed
that all of the over 300 members of the two houses be allowed onto
Sources in Copac said
the parliamentarians are set to pocket between US$65 and US $300
daily in allowances from the outreach programme.
The outreach teams are
expected to be out in the field for 65 days when the programme commences.
The UNDP and government
had pledged slightly over US$50 million to fund the constitution-making
process but the figure is expected to balloon after enlarging the
outreach programme teams.
Co-chairperson of Copac
Douglas Mwonzora confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that initially
not all legislators were supposed to be part of the outreach programme.
all House of Assembly members and Senators were part of the outreach
programme but the management committee decided to include all legislators
in order to enhance accessibility in all areas and all this has
the effect of increasing the allocated budget," Mwonzora said.
Mwonzora denied that
the UNDP had stopped funding the process.
"If the UNDP were
to pull out they would inform the government and they have not indicated
that to us. The UNDP remains committed and this week we met with
them to discuss various issues pertaining to the constitution-making
process," Mwonzora said.
There were reports that
UNDP, the European Union, USAid, Germany, the United Kingdom, the
UK's Department for International Development, Sweden and France
had withdrawn their support for the constitution-making process
after failing to influence the talking points.
Mwonzora however said
there had been confusion over the issue as the original understanding
was that UNDP would provide experts to assist in wording the questions
and in the production of the outreach manual.
that the UNDP wanted to influence the talking points is false as
there is a standing agreement that the UNDP will provide experts
who will assist with the wording of the questions and the production
of the manual and there is no way they would have wanted to take
control of a process that is controlled by Zimbabweans," Mwonzora
It also emerged this
week that the three political parties finally reached an agreement
on the appointment of rapporteurs who will lead the outreach programme.
Copac on Tuesday met
and reached an agreement that the rapporteurs will be appointed
on a professional basis by the committee.
The rapporteurs would
report to Copac and will make daily reports to political representatives
after every outreach meeting.
Zanu PF had wanted civil
servants and youths to be the rapporteurs. However the other parties
alleged that civil servants and youths were partisan.
The parties had then
proposed that each party will provide 70 rapporteurs.
"The issue of having
each party forwarding 70 rapporteurs was rejected and the rapporteurs
will now be appointed professionally," Mwonzora said.
Congress of Trade Unions, the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the Zimbabwe
National Association of Students' Unions yesterday said the
stalling of the constitution-making-process was a precursor to a
flawed draft document.
At a joint press conference
in Harare the civic organisations said they would campaign against
"To get a genuine
constitution, we need an independent commission and that is the
position we still stand by," said NCA chairperson Lovemore
Madhuku. "The politicians know about the need for independence
and that is the reason why they have three chairpersons (for the
management committee where each of the three political parties which
are signatory to the global political agreement are represented)."
process, Madhuku said, was also taking too long to take off, as
it was very much behind schedule.
"We will fight to
stop this as these people are wasting our time as a country. This
is our country and we cannot watch this circus," said Madhuku.
"They are not writing a constitution. It will be very naïve
to continue giving them the money for the new constitution. What
we are saying is that they should not waste our time and we are
going to play our constructive role".
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