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Constitution-making process moves slowly towards drafting stage:
Constitution Watch 2011
September 19, 2011
Committees’ compilation of district and provincial reports
has been completed. There were 60 district reports compiled, analysed
and distilled from the reports from meetings held in 1857 wards
by the outreach teams. These 60 district reports, together with
the written submissions sent or handed in direct to COPAC and all
website submissions including the completed questionnaires made
available for the Diaspora, were then collated into 10 provincial
can commence the provincial reports have to be consolidated and
distilled into a national report. But, work on this has not yet
started because COPAC felt it was necessary for the consolidation
of the outcomes of the outreach process into the district and provincial
reports to be thoroughly checked for errors and omissions, to ensure
these reports had correctly captured what the people said [see below
for details of this audit].
This new constitution-making
has been a stop-start process. Although the earlier stages of the
process, up to the First All-Stakeholders’ Conference, followed
timetable, after that the timing went haywire. The outreach was
scheduled to start by the end of July 2009, but did not do so until
late June 2010. It was supposed to take no more than four months,
but was not in fact complete until 15th March 2011. This meant the
Thematic Committee stage started a year and a half late and its
progress too has been a stop-start one. The many delays were due
to poor logistics, lack of proper planning, running out of funding,
political party disputes, accusations of tampering with data, the
harassment and arrest of the MDC-T COPAC co-chairperson, etc –
and, sheer carelessness, an example of which was that when it was
announced that the data for the Thematic Committees to work on had
been “uploaded and collated” it was discovered by Hon
Mwonzora when he was released from jail that the Diaspora submissions
had been omitted.
the committees could have started work at the beginning of April.
Disagreements about the methodology to be used stalled the start,
and the committees only eventually assembled for a training workshop
on 3rd and 4th May and started work on the ward reports on 5th May.
Time was lost again when work was interrupted while further inter-party
disagreements about methodology were resolved. Work then proceeded
until 9th June when the ward reports were completed. Another lengthy
delay ensued while funding was organised for the remainder of the
Thematic Committee programme. The committees reconvened from 1st
to 16th August and completed consolidating their ward reports into
first district and then provincial reports. Now these have to be
checked before proceeding to the next stage the National Report.
of District and Provincial Reports
The audit of
the district and provincial reports is still in progress. It has
taken far longer than planned, but is expected to conclude this
week. A report on the audit will be presented to the Select Committee.
The audit has been carried out at COPAC headquarters by a team consisting
- 12 representatives
of the three main political parties [4 nominated by each party]
- 9 quality
control experts [3 nominated by each party]
- COPAC staff
from the COPAC data collection department.
Step: Writing of a National Report
of the audit report, the Select Committee will decide when the writing
of the national report will begin. The national report is the document
that will guide the drafters as they prepare the draft Constitution.
The group responsible
for preparing the national report will consist of:
- 23 Thematic
Group team leaders [see below]
- 23 researchers/technical
experts [from the same group of people who advised the Thematic
Committees – selected for their experience in research and
in writing reports]
- 15 data analysts
[5 nominated by each of the political parties]
- 8 representatives
from the smaller political parties
- 2 representatives
of the Chiefs.
The venue for
this exercise is likely to be a Harare hotel – COPAC headquarters
cannot cater for such a large number of persons.
for writing national report
estimate is that the national report can be compiled in five days.
scrutiny of national report by political parties?
has not officially committed itself on this point, it is widely
assumed that the national report will be subjected to scrutiny by
the three main political parties before it is sent to the drafters.
Committees now 23 Thematic Groups
Three of the
original 17 Thematic Committees were subdivided in June to speed
up work on the district and provincial reports. The three Committees
concerned had particularly large themes. Subdivisions were as follows:
and Bill of Rights – into two groups, Citizenship and Bill
- Lands, Resources
and Empowerment – into three groups, Lands, Natural Resources,
Transitional Mechanisms and Independent Commissions – into
three groups, Elections, Transitional Mechanisms and Independent
in there being 23 thematic groups altogether, which explains the
inclusion of 23 team leaders and 23 researchers/technical experts
in the group responsible for writing the National Report.
The budget for
the drafting stage was approved on 4th August by the Project Board,
which comprises the COPAC Management Committee and representatives
of the donors. Although COPAC said in August that drafting would
commence “soon”, at the present rate of progress drafting
is unlikely to start before October. The last COPAC press release
estimated that the drafting would take “about 35 days”.
days a realistic estimate?
This is doubtful.
For one thing, COPAC’s estimates for previous stages of the
process have usually turned out to be over-optimistic. Moreover,
the drafting committee has a mammoth task. For instance, the outreach
talking points only covered about ten per cent of the content typically
required in for a constitution. Presumably the other 90% will be
left to the drafting committee. As this committee will have representatives/nominees
from all political parties [see below] there are likely to be lengthy
discussions before decisions are made for the technical/lead drafters
to follow. In addition, in a previous statement it was suggested
by COPAC that the drafting committee would be expected to look at
all SADC constitutions, and many other constitutions from around
the world, for useful ideas.
COPAC has also
stated that the draft Constitution will be made available in English,
in vernacular languages and in Braille.
COPAC has officially
announced the names of the three lead drafters:
Chinhengo – judge of the High Court of Botswana and former
judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe
– senior legal practitioner in private practice in Harare,
former legal drafter in the Attorney-General’s Office
– former Director of Legal Drafting in the Attorney-General’s
All three of
the lead drafters were members of the drafting committee that prepared
the draft constitution produced by the Chidyausiku Commission in
1999. This draft was rejected in the Referendum of February 2000,
but the rejection had nothing to do with the quality of the drafting.
members of drafting committee
committee will include the three COPAC co-chairpersons. The other
fifteen members of the committee will be announced later; they will
be persons with relevant experience. Each of the three GPA political
parties will nominate five members of the committee.
of the Drafting Stage
There has been
no indication that that civil society would be allowed to monitor
the drafting stage. ZZZICOMP [ZESN/ZPP/ZLHR
Independent Constitution Monitoring Project] has protested this
omission, stressing the importance of greater transparency and the
need for the outreach reports to be made available and civil society
to be allowed to monitor the drafting stage and other subsequent
events leading to the Referendum. COPAC’s response is awaited.
[Note: ZZZICOMP eventually, after a struggle, got COPAC to agree
to letting its observers in to monitor the Thematic Committee stage
– the compiling of the reports. As yet there has been no ZZZICOMP
report on this stage has been made available to the rest of civil
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