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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Edward Mukosi on rules for our rulers
    Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
    April 12, 2010

    SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma speaks to Edward Mukosi, one of the co-chairs of the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee. The constitution making process has hit another snag over complex questionnaires for the outreach. And, after the training of rapporteurs, it was expected the outreach programme would begin last weekend, but those hopes were dampened when it was announced donors were not willing to fund the entire process on their own.

    Lance Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to Rules for our Rulers, the programme where we look at constitutional issues. This week I've one of the co-chairpersons of the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee Mr Edward Mukosi. Thank you for joining us on the programme today.

    Edward Mukosi: Thank you.

    Guma: OK, now we understand the constitution making exercise has been bogged down again by a fresh dispute so we would like you maybe help us clarify things for our listeners. When is the outreach going to start?

    Mukosi: Currently I cannot give you an exact date when we shall start but the most important thing that you should know is that the delay is caused by lack of money. We don't have money to finance the outreach so the Minister of Finance has promised he's still looking for some money, the donors have actually also raised some money but they would like to fund certain aspects of the outreach, not the whole as it should be. So we are bogged down on the issue of money.

    Guma: OK, now we understand four million (US) has already been received and you need roughly 8.5 million. People are wondering why can't you use the money that's there and maybe look for the remainder when maybe you are halfway through the outreach?

    Mukosi: I presume you are talking of the four million that has been received by UNDP?

    Guma: Yes.

    Mukosi: Yah we are having problems with that money because UNDP is not prepared to fund all the aspects of the programme. They are only prepared to fund accommodation and food for the outreach programme, as for the subsistence allowance, they are not prepared to fund so we are having problems in that respect that the monies that are there, are selective in terms of funding.

    Guma: Where is the remainder of the money supposed to be coming from? I take it, is government meant to pick up the other bill for the funding?

    Mukosi: Yah the government is prepared but currently the government has no money. The Minister has promised that as soon as he gets money, he'll be throwing every bit into the process. So really you are talking of a government that has got a myriad of responsibilities when it comes to using money, so the constitution making process is part of the wide range of needy areas in terms of government funding.

    Guma: OK because there has obviously been worries that ZANU PF is not serious about this process and might be delaying it, so this is not one of those scenarios where we can blame ZANU PF for the delay?

    Mukosi: At the moment I don't really put the blame on anybody because as much as the MDC, ZANU PF has shown its interest in seeing the programme going through so if you want to know the position of ZANU in terms of its share of the delay, you better talk to (Paul) Mangwana but as far as I understand all of us are committed to make this programme go forward.

    Guma: OK last week the training of rapporteurs was concluded but we understand from the Standard newspaper that there is fresh disagreement particularly over the questions that are going to be used to be part of the Questionnaire, one of those questions which is, 'should the founding principles of the constitution recognise the irreversibility of the process of land reform', and questions like that. Can you tell us about this dispute, what's the problem?

    Mukosi: Ah well you may call it a dispute but really as far as I know the rapporteurs were trained to sharpen their understanding of how they should be using this tool, the Questionnaire. They were not expected to change or put any content into the Questionnaire. Their's was to understand it so that they can use it when they go out to interact with the populace, so whoever decided to challenge the content of the Questionnaire its really unfortunate, that person must go the parties that were involved in crafting the constitution. Mind you, the content of that constitution (questionnaire) came from the first All Stakeholders Conference which was held some time about four months ago and again we had a workshop where further inputs were made into the Questionnaire, so that these people that were being trained, they are not trained to change the content but to understand how to use the tool when collecting the data from the people.

    Guma: But you would agree Mr Mukosi looking at these type of questions, they are very ambiguous and very difficult to answer because they are so broad. Is that not a problem?

    Mukosi: Yah unfortunately I'm not a lawyer by training but from the lawyers when they explained it to us how these questions are going to be used, you begin to appreciate that if they are administered in the manner they were crafted, they will help the interviewers to get the answers to the questions in a way that will help in the crafting of the final document.

    Guma: Explain one thing for us - are these questions going to be asked of the ordinary people in the rural areas, I mean who are these questions directed at because they seem to be very complex?

    Mukosi: The questions really, the questions will be asked by the rapporteur, by the chair of the group, there will be 70 groups and the members of the group will be helping the chairman how to explain the questions so that they actually draw out the answers that will represent the feeling of the people. It's unfortunate that you can ask a direct question but to many people it may mean different things so in that respect the ambiguity you are speaking of it depends on which area or what aspect do you understand the question and that is why we need the rapporteurs to fully understand so that they can guide these people by probing the people to produce what they want to get out of this.

    Guma: Last week the Zimbabwe Election Support Network tried to host a constitutional meeting in Mashonaland Central and after earlier been given permission by the District Administrator, we understand the governor for Mashonaland Central blocked that meeting. Are these sort of reports not a worry for you before you begin this outreach that probably you might face resistance on the ground from some of these militias that we are being told are being deployed countrywide?

    Mukosi: Yah if that is the case it's really worrying because we got the understanding from the government that all the government apparatus will be at our disposal to facilitate the interaction with the populace. If ever there's anybody who harbours the feeling of using the militia to disrupt the process then that person will be bear full responsibility for the failure of the people of Zimbabwe to come up with their people driven constitution because the idea is not to disturb the process but the idea is to facilitate the progression of the process.

    Guma: Now we know last time the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee requested police protection and police services, the police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri demanded huge sums of money, I think it ran into millions of US dollars - what's the status of that issue - are the police still demanding payment for their services?

    Mukosi: That request even came to us as the Select Committee and Management Committee. We made it clear that we are not expecting policemen to go beyond their normal duties. There are policemen throughout the country and in an area where we shall be holding meetings we expect the local police force to cover those meetings and to make sure that there is peace and tranquillity whereby people can express their views without any fear of reprisals thereafter.

    Guma: And just give our listeners a sense of how this massive programme is going to be done, you've got 210 rapporteurs, we understand all the members of Parliament and all the Senators are going to be involved - how are these teams going to be divided countrywide?

    Mukosi: In total we have got 70 teams, each team consists, of the 70, consist of about ten people and these teams will be deployed to the provinces; in a province there may be about six teams and while they are out there they will spread themselves into the provinces, reaching out to the wards. A ward may have about three meetings at which the teams will explain the content of the Questionnaire and start soliciting answers from the public by way of asking questions, those questions that we are talking about. So the, and we think the process will be done within a period of 65 days.

    Guma: My final question for you Mr Mukosi, I know you need to go into another meeting, do you think Zimbabwe will have a new constitution before elections next year? Are you on course to have this exercise completed in time?

    Mukosi: Given the fact that we have got adequate monies and there is willpower from all those that are concerned, the people are waiting for us to reach them out and get as much as we can from them. Given that environment, if everything is in place I hope we shall have a constitution but if there is a development whereby we don't have sufficient funding and people are not cooperative and they are setting up militias then I'm afraid the process may be delayed for some time to come.

    Guma: That was Edward Mukosi, he's one of the co-chairpersons of the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee joining us on our programme, Rules for Our Rulers. Mr Mukosi thank you so much for your time.

    Mukosi: Thank you, thank you.

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