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consultation to start mid-January - Constitution Watch 14
December 17, 2009
Committee Announces Thematic Sub-Committee Members
At a press conference
on 16th December the Select Committee co-chairpersons announced
the composition of the constitutional thematic sub-committees. There
are 17 thematic sub-committees and each one will have 25 members,
making a total of 425 individuals involved in the thematic sub-committees.
The chairpersons are MPs or Senators, as required by Article 6 of
the deputy chairpersons are from civic society. Membership of the
thematic sub-committees is shared between parliamentarians and civic
society in the proportions 30% to 70% [8 parliamentarians and 17
non-parliamentarians per team]. The Select Committee uses the term
“civic society” to include political parties as well
as other organisations, so political parties are represented among
the 17 other members of each sub-committee. Names were put forward
by civic society organisations but the final selection of deputy
chairpersons and members of the thematic sub-committees was done
by the Select Committee in a way they believed would ensure a balance
of people considered sympathetic to the main political parties.
The 11 small political parties not represented in Parliament have
been accommodated, each being allowed 5 nominees spread over the
17 thematic sub-committees. The Select Committee believes it has
come up with a group of people truly representative of Zimbabwean
society and characterised by gender balance and inclusivity.
the sub-committees will be expected to make themselves available
at any time for several months obviously they will not include people
whose jobs and responsibilities preclude this. Also, because of
the delays and the uncertainty that have dogged the constitution-making
process [the Select Committee originally said that thematic committees
would be set up by 28th July] some people who let their names go
forward many months ago have said that they are likely to withdraw
because of other work commitments. Others didn’t even know
that their names had been put forward and will be unable to make
themselves available. There will have to be some revision of the
The Select Committee
have also chosen an additional 135, individuals bringing to 560
the total complement of persons involved in the outreach programme
to consult the people on what they want in the new constitution.
107 of the 135 extra outreach personnel are Parliamentarians, the
idea being that they will use their influence to assist in smoothing
out any problems arising in the field. The other 28 will come from
civic society lists. The services of the extra 135 will be required
for the duration of the outreach exercise only – they will
not be members of the thematic sub-committees who continue their
work after the outreach.
for the outreach exercise will start with training outreach personnel
on 4th January 2010. Consultation of the people will start on 12th
January and take 65 days [or more if necessary]. All thematic sub-committee
members and the additional outreach personnel will be involved in
the outreach exercise.
Outreach Teams: The 560 will be divided into 70 teams of 8 members
each. Each team will be responsible for consulting the people in
3 of the 210 House of Assembly constituencies.
for Parliamentarians [4th to 5th January]: MPs and Senators will
be trained on their own on Tuesday 5th January [arrival and registration
on Monday 4th]
for non-Parliamentarians [6th to 10thJanuary]: The remainder of
the outreach personnel will be trained in a four-day workshop running
from 7th to 10th January [arrival and registration on Wednesday
Outreach Teams [11th January]: Outreach teams will then be deployed
to the provinces where they will meet officials and representatives
of civic society at provincial level on Monday 11th January to explain
their programme before starting work the next day.
Start of Outreach:
Consultation with the people will start on Tuesday 12th January.
End of Outreach:
18th March 2010 [the consultations are expected to last 65 days
but this time will be extended if necessary].
Responsibilities to Continue after Outreach Finishes: Members of
the thematic sub-committees will be expected to continue their work
after the outreach exercise to synthesise and collate the results
of the consultations with the people. Each thematic sub-committee
will prepare a report on what the people want the new constitution
to say on the sub-committee’s theme. These reports will form
the basis on which the drafters will proceed to produce a draft
of the new constitution. [The extra 135 persons not on the thematic
committees will not be involved in this exercise.]
of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Continues Advocacy Programme
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga has been
continuing his countrywide series of “advocacy meetings”
in Masvingo on Wednesday and Mutare on Thursday. As with his previous
meetings in Bulawayo, Lupane, Gwanda and Gweru, the Minister’s
aim was to reassure the country that the inclusive government remains
committed to the making of a new constitution notwithstanding the
delays that have occurred, and to prepare the ground for the Parliamentary
Select Committee’s outreach programme in January. Senior provincial
officials, chiefs and other traditional and community leaders, and
area NGOs are being specially invited to these meetings, but the
meetings are also open to all interested persons. An hour is set
aside at each meeting for the Minister to answer questions from
will continue in the New Year, to cover Harare and the three Mashonaland
Provinces at dates and venues to be announced.
Rivalry – A Challenge to the Constitution-Making Process
At the Bulawayo
advocacy meeting, the Minister’s said: “the biggest
challenge we face in the constitution-making process is achieving
a conducive environment for everyone to participate in the process
openly and freely without fear … How do we achieve this? …
without a true and proper healing of the nation it will be difficult
for the nation to produce a new constitution”. This was not
intended as a signal that the constitution-making process is to
be further delayed. It was merely an acknowledgement of the difficulty
of the task.
The Select Committee
has given assurances through its co-chairpersons that it is alive
to the challenges that may arise for outreach teams in the field
if political rivalries bring about confrontations at public meetings.
The training of the teams will include guidance on how to handle
difficult situations that may arise and how members of the teams
should conduct themselves in a professional and non-partisan manner.
Leaders of all
political parties are urged to curb their party cadres and ensure
the process is not disrupted by party sloganeering and disruptive
behavior, as was the case in some of the consultative meetings leading
to the First All Stakeholders’ Conference and at the Conference
Congress Resolutions on Constitution-Making
passed by the ZANU-PF Congress on Saturday 12th December referred
to the constitution-making process. These resolutions, although
strongly worded, anti-MDC and foreign intervention, do not explicitly
repeat the earlier ZANU-PF position that the constitution-making
process should wait until “illegal” Western sanctions
have been lifted. Nor do any of the resolutions mention the Kariba
Draft. What is of concern is the phrase “prevent it from
being hijacked by those who wish to effect regime change”.
This could be an encouragement to party youths, war vets, etc, to
block any change in presidential powers or transitional electoral
reform. The clauses of the resolutions mentioning the Constitution
C. On Land Reform,
Resettlement and Agriculture
2. [The Congress]
Instructs the Party to ensure that the new constitution and the
current Post-Maputo Inter-Party Negotiations do not reverse the
Land Reform Programme and instead ensure security of tenure which
entrenches ownership and control of the indigenous population over
the nation’s land and natural resources.
D. On the GPA
and the Inclusive Government
5. [The Congress]
Signals its determination to reject any outcome of the Constitution-making
process that is not home grown. An acceptable outcome would be a
Constitution made by Zimbabweans for Zimbabwe, which entrenches
the ethos and gains of the Liberation Struggle and is not the product
of any external interference. No foreigners, individual, corporate
or national in whatever capacity they may from time to time find
themselves involved in aspects of Zimbabwe’s bilateral dispute
with Britain, have the right to dictate or impose a Constitutional
order on Zimbabwe.
7. Directs all
Party members and organs to fully participate in the constitution
making process in order to prevent it from being hijacked by those
who wish to effect regime change or to undermine the gains of the
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