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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Zimbabwe Briefing Issue 50
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (SA Regional Office)
    November 02, 2011

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    Stop-Go constitution-making process now set to move ahead flawlessly

    The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition last Saturday hosted a constitutional reform update and briefing meeting targeted at Zimbabweans living in South Africa. Honourable Douglas Mwonzora (MP), the Co-Chairperson from constitution select committee, commonly known as COPAC and spokesperson of Movement for Democratic Change
    (MDC) made the keynote address. In the address, Mwonzora stressed that the writing of a constitution had to be undertaken in accordance to the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and focused on three fundamental principles, that is, it has to be people driven, all-inclusive, and democratic.

    Mwonzora agreed that the constitution was behind time as it should have been put to a referendum in 2010. He cited a frustrating environment characterised by complete disregard of the rule of law, selective application of the law, where certain people are immune to arrest and others subject to victimisation by the law as one of the reasons for the delay in process.

    In addition, the COPAC Co-Chairperson also said the Zimbabwean government was broke and has had to rely on donor communities for funds. The other hindrance delaying the constitution was the distrust among the political parties, resulting in constant fighting on several issues. At present, political parties are fighting over the definitions and approaches to quantitative and qualitative analysis of data.

    COPAC has agreed on three principle drafters of the constitution, Hon Justice Moses Chinhengo, Priscilla Madzonga, and Brian Crozier who will be assisted by 17 legal experts.

    Last week, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition confirmed that drafting of a new constitution will begin mid-November this year and that the three, non-political actors named above will undertake the task of writing. They are expected to retreat to the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe for the writing. Content issues expected to dominate the body of the constitution are expected to include; term limits for the Executive and restrictions on the extent to which it can interfere with other arms of government; decentralisation; land (land audits, the Land Commission etc.), Bill of Rights; and the strengthening of Parliament and representation.

    This constitution, if adopted, will be seen as one guiding Zimbabwe to becoming a post-conflict society that will go through a free and fair election which will result in a democratic transfer of power to the eventual winner, in stark contrast to the 2008 episode, recorded as one of the most chaotic and violent elections in the history of Zimbabwe.

    Munjodzi Mutandiri of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) demanded from COPAC a more active role for civil society actors in the final stages of the constitution-makingprocess. Mwonzora responded by stating that CSOs were most welcome to monitor and observe the entire process.

    Meanwhile, the constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC), last Thursday at its head office, announced the completion of the national report.

    Briefing the audience, COPAC spokesperson Honourable Jessi Majome (MP) indicated that the report is basically an elaborate of raw data collected countrywide during the consultative phase. She said that the report is in two components, statistical form, and the other in narrative. What it simply means is that both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis were used in producing the report; Clues were that the report will be up for public consumption shortly. They also presented a statement revealing that the report carried information refelcting the contributions on each of the thematic areas.

    In her address, Honourable Majome added that the achievement paves way for drafting of the new constitution, which they anticipate completion within 35 days. Honourable Paul Mangwana, the only Co- Chairperson who was available added that the drafting process would be piloted with a preparatory workshop whose expected outcomes would be:

    • The identification of constitutional issues from the national report,
    • Consensus on the constitutional issues to be included in the constitution
    • Gap filling in constitutional framework in areas not covered by field data
    • The finalisation of the constitutional framework
    • The identification of the constitutional principles which will guide the drafting team and
    • Agreeing on framework for conflict/dispute resolution.

    The workshop has been scheduled for Monday, 31st October in Masvingo and participants are limited to members of the select Committee who will provide political guidance to the process; members of the drafting committee and representative of the ministry of constitutional affairs. Observers and the local media are only welcome for the opening and closing ceremonies. However, the panel, that mainly consisted of members of the sub-committees could not be drawn into giving specific dates timeframe for the completion of the remaining part citing it is a process whose success does not allow such inflexibility. Mangwana said there are a number of unforeseen challenges that make it difficult for them to give a substantive timeframe.

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