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ready for outreach? - Constitution Watch 8
September 09, 2009
of GPA Time-line for the New Constitution
13 July –
Convening of the First All Stakeholders Conference
– Public Consultation Process must be completed – no
later than 4 months after date of First All Stakeholders Conference]
Committee “Almost” Ready to Proceed
After long delays,
the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution has now said
that they are almost ready to set up thematic sub-committees and
outreach teams. Whether in fact they are almost ready is a moot
point as the Committee have said that funding still has not been
secured for the Public Consultation Process. All three of the Select
Committee chairpersons have, however, said that the press report
that the Select Committee has taken a decision “suspending
operations in protest against non-payment of allowances and a lack
of funding to complete the task” is incorrect. Planning is
continuing and some progress has been made.
The delay has
been attributed to:
- Lack of finance
– the ZANU-PF chairperson of the Select Committee has said
that funding must not come direct from donors to the Committee
as that would create the wrong perception, but must come via the
between the political parties – with one party being accused
of slowing down the whole process deliberately by not getting
on with naming their quota of chairpersons and boycotting meetings,
the other party blaming a lack of response from Treasury.
on Work Plan for the Consultative Stage
selection of thematic sub-committees Persons to sit on these committees
have been identified, but not yet informed The number of thematic
sub-committees will be 17, with each sub-committee having 25 members,
making a total of 425 people.
of the thematic committees
These will be
all be Parliamentarians. ZANU-PF and MDC-T have each been asked
to put forward 7 chairpersons, MDC-M 2 and Chiefs 1. Both MDCs had
selected theirs by 16th July but ZANU-PF asked for more time and
have not yet put forward their list of names, but have assured the
Select Committee that they will be provided this coming Monday.
[Note: it is stipulated under the GPA that all the chairpersons
should be Parliamentarians. In April, civil society was informed
by the Select Committee that the principals would be asked to agree
to a revision of this provision so that some of the thematic sub-committees
could be chaired by non-Parliamentarians, but nothing came of this.
It is also worth remembering that the Speaker in April said Parliament
had through its Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [CSRO] recommended
to the three principals that parties should consider the appointment
of a non- Parliamentarian to chair the Select Committee –
again nothing came of this.]
These will be
non-Parliamentarians chosen and then appointed by the Select Committee.
There will be 7 each nominated by ZANU-PF and MDC-T, 2 by MDC-M
and 1 by the Chiefs. They will be selected by the parties from names
of non-Parliamentarians put forward by NGOs and other civil society
bodies for the thematic committees.
and selection of Outreach Teams
There will be
70 outreach teams to cover 210 constituencies, with about 12 members
in each team and each team will visit 3 constituencies. The total
number of people involved in the outreach teams for the public consultation
process is 860 – made up of the 425 thematic committee members
plus and extra 435. There will also have to be a number of support
staff for each team.
This is in progress,
but is not yet finished. Technical experts, some of whom were members
of the 1999 Government [Chidyausiku] Constitutional Commission have
been brought in by the Select Committee to assist in this exercise.
When the questionnaires have been drawn up they will have to be
discussed and agreed with the thematic sub-committees.
committees and other members of the outreach teams will be trained
together in a series of seminars in the use of the questionnaires
and the outreach procedures. The Select Committee will identify
these trainers. The estimated time for training is about two weeks.
on Thematic Sub-Committees and Outreach Teams
The total number
of people in the outreach teams is 860 [425 from the thematic sub-committees
plus an extra 435].
[Senators and MPs] will number 258 out of the 860 [30%]
will number 602 [70%] out of the 860. These will be selected by
political parties from a pool of names put forward by NGOs, the
business sector, women’s groups, war veterans, farming groups,
unions [not ZCTU who are opting out of the Parliamentary-driven
process], etc. Which stakeholder groups were approached for names
was decided on by the Select Committee. ZANU-PF will select 254
[42.2%]of the 602, MD-T will choose 254 [42.2%], MDC-M 62 [10.3%],
and chiefs will choose 32 [5.3%]. The Select Committee has said
that the parties have been asked to select members taking into account
skills, gender balance and political affiliation.
of 30% Parliamentarians to 70% non-Parliamentarians will be reflected
in the composition of the thematic sub-committees, as will the percentages
each party and the chiefs get to nominate for the thematic committees.
is secured it will still take about a month to put thematic sub-committees
and outreach teams in place, complete the questionnaires and conduct
the training seminars. The Select Committee have said the tasks
that do not require substantial funding will be started immediately,
while waiting for the major funding needed for the actual outreach,
for allowances, transport, accommodation, etc. for 860 people and
support staff and services.
The Select Committee
have said that they believe they will still meet the deadline of
13th November given in the GPA time-frame. This will mean that the
time allotted for public consultation is reduced to about one month.
[In fact the GPA time-frame was never incorporated into the Constitution,
but there is an obligation on the three parties as signatories to
the Interparty-Political Agreement [GPA] to stick to it unless the
three principals to the GPA agree to change provisions] There has
been talk of the principals meeting to decide whether to alter the
time-line but this meeting has not taken place. The problem now
is that with the amount of time that has already passed since the
All Stakeholder Conference, if the GPA deadline of 13th November
is met, then the GPA intention of allowing four months for outreach
for wide public consultation cannot be honoured.
for Secretariat and Executive Director
The Select Committee
today resolved that a special Secretariat with an Executive Director
should be set up to back its work on the Constitution. So far administrative
tasks arising from the Select Committee’s work have had to
be carried out by the staff of Parliament. Parliament has to continue
with its core business and the amount of work and logistics involved
in the public consultation stage and then the collating and writing
up the information into reports to form the basis of drafting a
new Constitution requires extra personnel and resources. But of
course funds have to be found.
Note: the Select
Committee did not respond to an offer from civil society arising
from their Constitutional Conference for the Select Committee to
establish a Parliamentary– Civil Society Joint Coordination
and Management Committee to improve the management of the process.
It is sad the
something as important as a new Constitution should be the subject
of delays caused by inter-party power plays. At the All Stakeholders
Conference [which itself was delayed to the last possible moment]
attendees were assured the Select Committee would publish notices
in the press not later than 17th July giving details of the thematic
sub-committees and calling on stakeholders to indicate their fields
of interest and nominate representatives to serve on the sub-committees
and that the sub-committees would be constituted by 28th July. Not
only were these deadlines not met, but calls for nominees were not
made public. Although there is in fact no obligation for the Select
Committee to stick to what was decided at the First All Stakeholder
conference [the GPA states that the Select Committee is to “consult”
stakeholders and get their “assistance”] there is a
moral imperative that the new Constitution promised to the people
of Zimbabwe by the GPA should not be derailed or delayed by party-political
tactics. It was also hoped that there would be more accountability
and transparency in the whole process.
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