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How the Constitution strings were finally tied together
in Zimbabwe Coalition
January 18, 2013
Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition met COPAC co-chairperson, Hon. Douglas Mwonzora, who revealed
the full details of the agreement reached to finalize the COPAC
Constitution at the Crisis Zimbabwe Offices on Friday, January 18,
was attended by the Crisis Coalition Director McDonald Lewanika
and Programs Manager Nixon Nyikadzino. Hon Mwonzora apprised the
Coalition's Office on the agreement reached on the seven key
deadlock issues. The agreements are contained in a signed Drafting
Instruction which has been given to the drafter who, the Co-Chair
said, are now in the process of finalizing
the draft constitution to be out in a week, and latest by end
of January 2013, ready for presentation to Parliament
in February, with possibilities of a Referendum on the draft Constitution
After the meeting,
the interim assessment of the Coalition is that there seems to have
been no earth shuttering changes to the July 18 draft, and the most
accommodations made, were unfortunately accommodations meant to
allay political party fears rather address the people's wishes.
The process, only has meaningful credence in as far as it allowed
the out puts of some fairly democratic discussions at the 2nd All
Stakeholders Conference to be discussed and incorporated into the
final draft, albeit with politicians and political party leaders
as the final arbiters on the matters.
The COPAC co-chair
shared the following as the final agreement on the deadlock issues
(paraphrased), with the Coalition's interim comments where
it was felt necessary. Extensive comments will be sought from the
Coalition's members and experts and released in due course.
on devolution will be as in the COPAC draft constitution released
on July 18, 2012 with the changes being the following: A preamble
to explain what devolution does not incorporate or imply. The office
of Governor has been done away with to be replaced by a Chairperson
of Provincial Council, who will be elected by the full council from
the list provided by party with the majority in the council.
on devolution while short of what have been ideal, are welcome as
a good platform to build on for the future. They are better than
other abstract concepts, which had been placed on the table like
Delegations and Decentralization. The absence of direct democracy
on most of how this devolved state is going to be put up, and the
absence of a Provincial Government still means that there are gaps,
that were created as a result of the compromises, but gaps, which
may be lived with.
There will be
an Attorney General and a National Prosecuting Authority as in the
COPAC draft. The change is that the transitional provision will
work for six years instead of the previously seven years.
of these two functions is a welcomed development. The only rub here,
has to do not with the provision but with personalities involved
in the offices during the transitional period. The assumption, one
would guess is that the current Attorney General will take up one
of the offices, possibly the NPA leadership for the transitional
period. Given reservations around the partiality of the current
office bearer this leaves a foul taste in the mouth. However, the
provision introduces a limit to the term of the office bearer, which
was not the case before.
Peace and Reconciliation Commission
There will be
a constitutional body for 10 years after which an Act of Parliament
may decide to perpetuate it. The difference is that the provision
in the draft Constitution of 18 July 2012 used the word "shall"
instead of "may" and the period for the existence of
the constitutional body had been shorter.
will be vested in the President and h/she will exercise it through
Cabinet. The COPAC draft said the executive authority will be vested
in both President and Cabinet.
In spite of
the safeguards put in place, the commission would still have been
better off as an independent Constitutional Commission. The compromise
made is reflective not of best practice but the fears of some parties
of the state at the moment.
mate provision will remain the same, but will be coupled with a
transitional provision that ensures that it will not be immediately
implemented, but will come into effect after five years.
provisions are a "get of jail free card" for the current
political leaders, who will not have to deal with the messy issues
of succession in their parties at this stage in full view of the
court will remain part of the constitution and there will be a transitional
provision to have the Chief Justice, four Supreme Court and three
new judges sitting on the court for seven years.
arrangements here are also reflective of fears rather than best
practice. The inclusion of this court in the constitution would
have also offered an opportunity for a fresh start with independent
judges. Part of the challenge of this provision will be the absence
of a meaningful vetting exercise that is backward looking to ensure
that Judges to this court have not been complicit in bastardising
the constitution or engage in some dishonorable conduct while on
the bench in the previous dispensation. The absence of this vetting
process will mean that it is possible for bad apples from the past
to be transported into the new dispensation. There is also the challenge
of 'double dipping' by some judges who will be on both
the Supreme Court and Constitutional court benches.
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