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All-Stakeholders Conference on the new Constitution – Constitution
July 10, 2009
All-Stakeholders Conference on the New Constitution
- Monday 13th
– Tuesday 14th July 2009
- Venue Harare
International Conference Centre
Time 8 am Monday [Registration from 8 am Sunday]
and Dr Hope Sadza
of collecting and collating evidence on the people’s wishes
the process of constituting subcommittees [including thematic
committees] of the Select Committee
Society Space at the Conference
on behalf of The Civil Society Coordinating Mechanism for Constitutional
Participation, spearheaded by NANGO and Crisis Coalition, have booked
the Jacaranda Room in the Rainbow Towers as a place for civil society
to meet and caucus before, during and after the Conference. Civil
society organisations are encouraged to make use of this facility
which will be open from 8 am Sunday to Tuesday evening.
Caused by Postponement
were geared up for the Conference this weekend as it had been scheduled
for 10th – 12th July 2009. There was considerable anxiety
and frustration when civil society organisations who have been working
for years on constitutional reform had not received invitations
and had heard nothing. The Parliamentary
Select Committee on the Constitution, who are mandated by the
Political Agreement [IPA] to drive the constitutional process,
were locked up in marathon meetings in Parliament going on for days.
came after disputes following the Select Committee presenting its
plans to other Parliamentarians. Originally some MPs wanted it delayed
to the 26th. The reason was that they needed more time to prepare
their delegates. The State press reported that there were also members
of the Select Committee, namely Chief Charumbira, ZANU-PF chief
whip Joram Gumbo and Minister for Women’s Affairs Olivia Muchena,
who sought a postponement and said that the Select Committee had
made some decisions when some members were not able to attend meetings.
The Select Committee
chairpersons stuck to their guns and said they had to follow the
Interparty Political Agreement [IPA] timeframe. [The IPA says it
must be held before the 13th July, three months after the setting-up
of the Select Committee.] A compromise was reached and the meeting
is now scheduled for next week. The Speaker of Parliament said that
there had been “immense pressure to defer the conference for
a longer period of time by certain political parties, but my job
is to implement what is outlined in the GPA...if there are those
who want to derail the process…we will not allow it.”
The Select Committee,
however, gave way on the invitation of distinguished guests from
other countries whom they had wanted to attend and give the benefit
of their wisdom and experience – Mr Cyril Ramaposa and a Rwandese
legislator. They will not now be attending.
[It is unfortunate
that the conference, instead of being held over the weekend, is
now on a Monday and Tuesday and very late notice is being given.
It makes it very difficult for professional people and those in
full-time employment to make the necessary arrangements. But this
suited the political parties who said they wanted to bus their delegates
in on Sunday.]
of the 4000 Delegates for the Conference
1600 [40%] of
the delegates will come from Political Parties including Members
Of the other
60% - all are allocated to organisations:- Churches get 400 [10%],
NGOs 320 [8%], War Veterans Associations 240 [6%]; Women’s
Organisations 240 [6%]; Labour [mostly ZANU-PF affiliated organisations]
200 [5%]; Youth [a good percentage of ZANU-PF affiliated organisations]
160 [4%]; Business 120 [3%]; Farmers 80 [2%]; Traditional Leaders
80 [2%]; Disabled 80 [2%]; Local Authorities 80 [2%]; Government
Arms [Executive and Judiciary] 80 [2%]; Children 40 [1%]; Informal
Sector 40 [1%]; Academia [mostly teacher training and technical
colleges] 40 [1%]; Arts and Culture 24 [0.6%]; Media 24 [0.6%];
Residents/Ratepayers Associations 24 [0.6%]; Parastatals 20 [0.5%];
Minorities 20 [0.5%]; Professional Boards 20 [0.5%]; Traditional
Healers 16 [0.4%]; Sports 16 [0.4%].
were invited to provide information about their qualifications and
skills. These seem to be ignored.
It is still
not clear how diaspora organisations will have a say in this important
Many civil society
organisations and networks that have been working for years on Constitutional
issues and civic education were not given representation. Some of
the large networks, e.g., those representing hundreds of HIV/AIDS
organisations, have been left out.
The Select Committee
has said they would allocate a few more delegate places to CSOs
that had been omitted, but this has not yet been done.
organisation invitations are being distributed through NANGO and
This was supposed
to have been done by the Select Committee on the basis of who registered
at the Provincial Consultative Meetings month, but it seems there
might have been considerable “interference” from other
Parliamentarians and staff of Parliament.
was reported that in some provincial consultative meetings party
supporters and war vets were mobilised to attend [and caused considerable
disruption]. This could well have reduced the attendance of other
civic-minded people. It was also reported that in some districts
allocation of buses was done with party-political bias. The selection
of delegates being in the hands of the Parliamentarians gives Parliament
huge de facto control over the outcome of the Conference –
it would be more transparent if civil society monitors had overseen
this process. This, together with the overweighed number of political
party delegates, feeds into fears that the constitution coming out
of this process will be largely a political compromise.
Civil Society Reactions
dismayed to note the unfavorable distribution of delegates, wherewith
some bogus and/or politically aligned organisations have been given
a greater share of delegates compared to organisations already invested
in the reform process.”
The Law Society
of Zimbabwe has been given 2 delegates; the Bee Keepers Society
have been given 2 delegates.
just all about political parties”.
reserve judgement till we see the composition of the subcommittees
who are to go around the country consulting the people. It is that
process which will determine the main content of the Constitution.”
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