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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • COPAC outreach programme in security quandary as ZRP demands $3 million
    Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPS)
    May 18, 2010

    The COPAC Outreach programme to gather views of the public on the new constitution is in a security dilemma as ZRP demands a budget of $2.9 million for services it would render during the outreach period. This was revealed by the COPAC Chairpersons, namely; Hon. Paul Mangwana, Hon. Douglous Mwonzora and Hon. Edward Mkhosi when they appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs on Tuesday 18 May 2010. The Portfolio Committee had invited the COPAC Chairperson to brief it on the security measures that had been put in place to ensure that the constitution making process was a success. The committee also took the opportunity to clarify the alleged acrimony between the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and COPAC.

    The COPAC Chairpersons informed the Committee that initially the COPAC budget did not cater for the ZRP as COPAC was working under the assumption that since the constitution-making process was a national event, it was therefore the statutory duty of the police force to provide security to its citizens without demanding any additional funding other than their day-to-day budget. This argument failed to convince ZRP as it went ahead and submitted a budget of $2.9 million to COPAC.

    COPAC told the Committee that it was not in a position to meet the ZRP demand as it did not have legal powers to vary a budget which has already been submitted to and agreed with the donors. The Co-Chairpersons further argued that COPAC did not have the financial muscle to fundraise for a government department let alone recapitalize it by buying it 29 landrovers as was demanded by the ZRP. Furthermore, COPAC it did not want to give the impression that it was buying security when the ZRP is statutorily mandated to provide it.

    As things stand, COPAC was only praying that treasury would provide the required financial resources to the ZRP, otherwise it would not make sense to approach donors with such a request. Otherwise, if there was no solution in sight, the Co-Chairpersons informed the Committee that they would take up the issue with the GPA Principals as a last resort.

    The COPAC Chairpersons were noncommittal on the date for the outreach roll-out, only saying that they were still waiting for the purchase of recording equipment e.g. tape and video recorders, laptops etc. The Committee was informed that a tender had already been awarded by the Projects Board. Only after the above-mentioned equipment has been delivered would COPAC be in a position to announce the dates for the outreach. (Unconfirmed reports seem to indicate the outreach programme would commence no later than mid June this year.)

    COPAC Chairpersons also took the opportunity to inform the Committee that the outreach talking points had been reduced to 30 questions to make them user-friendly and that these would be translated into indigenous languages.

    It also came to light during the hearing that most outreach team members were not happy with the daily per diem rate of $15. Hence the three parties were set to hold a joint caucus meeting sometime this week to discuss the matter.

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