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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Press statement on the new Constitution
    Zimbabwe Election Support Network
    January 18, 2013

    The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) welcomes the final agreement on the COPAC draft constitution between the principals in the GPA. While the timelines provided for in the GPA have not been met, the agreement by political parties will help to expedite the process to a referendum which is long overdue.

    While ZESN raised concerns about the role of parties in the constitution making process, as usurping the role of citizens, it is important that the steps provided in the GPA have to be adhered to, to ensure that citizens have an opportunity to debate the draft. According to press statements, the constitutional affairs and parliamentary affairs minister, the draft agreed to by the principals still has to be presented to the standing committees of political parties, ZANU PF's Politburo and the full COPAC Parliamentary committee before the final draft goes to a referendum. This process as explained by the minister is not in line with provisions in the GPA, which provides a roadmap to the constitution making process which parties agreed to and was guaranteed by SADC.

    ZESN is concerned that the current process as explained by Minister Matinenga does not seem to include citizens. Citizens should be given an opportunity to understand the draft, debate it and make choices based on information and awareness of the contents of the constitution. The constitution is for Zimbabweans and they need to be prioritised in these processes. The draft has to be translated and summarised into content that is accessible and understandable to citizens to enable informed choices at the referendum.

    ZESN is also concerned that taking the draft back to the parties' standing committees and the politburo will regress the process as more changes will be proposed and negotiations will commence again thus hindering the progress to referendum. Principals represent their parties and so taking the draft to political parties again could be duplication of effort. According to the GPA the draft constitution should be tabled before Parliament, before being gazetted and taken to referendum. In addition, the GPA states that a referendum on the new draft shall be held within three months of the conclusion of the debate which though limited would provide time for citizens to familiarise themselves with the contents of the drafts and its implications for the governance of the country. ZESN urges the stakeholders to adhere to these timeframes and not short change citizens.

    Visit the ZESN fact sheet

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