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