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New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
Drafting to start soon - Reminder of the process so far - Constitution
December 01, 2011
Drafting to Start Soon
process is nearing the point at which the three principal drafters
will start their task of drafting the new constitution. The process
has taken so long that we are sending out a synopsis of the various
stages that have already been completed together with the original
timeframe laid down in the GPA.
– The Process so Far
the First All Stakeholders’ Conference
The GPA was formally signed by the three principal party leaders
on 15th September 2008. Article 6 GPA laid down a timetable for
the preparation of a new Constitution by a Select Committee of Parliament,
putting the draft of this new Constitution to a Referendum, and,
assuming a YES vote, the presentation to Parliament of a Bill for
the new Constitution – all within 20 months of the inception
of the inclusive government. [See full timetable at the end of this
Bulletin.] Integral to the process was a public consultation process
to ensure the new Constitution would be “owned” by the
The Article 6 timetable began to run on 13th February 2009, when
government was formed under the GPA. A period of two months
from then, i.e. until 13th April 2009, was allowed for the setting-up
of the Select Committee of Parliament.
The setting-up of the Select Committee was announced on the 12th
April. It consisted of 25 Parliamentarians, 17 men and 8 women from
both the Senate and the House of Assembly, reflecting the Parliamentary
gender balance and the strengths of the different parties in Parliament
[MDC-T 11, ZANU-PF 10, MDC-M 3, Chiefs 1]. The members of the Select
Committee attended courses on constitution making, held workshops
and consulted with civil society about the process [although not
many of the assurances given to civil society were adhered to].
A workplan was drawn up, together with a list of 16 constitutional
themes for which thematic committees would be appointed after the
First All-Stakeholders Conference. The number of themes was widely
considered to be excessive and likely to make both public consultation
and drafting more difficult. It was pointed out that in the South
African constitution-making process there had been 6 thematic committees,
and that the Chidyausiku Constitutional Commission in Zimbabwe in
1999 had worked with 8 themes.
July 2009: First
All Stakeholders’ Conference held: The Select Committee managed
to meet its first GPA deadline by holding the First All-Stakeholders
Conference on 13th and 14th July. It was attended by 4000 delegates
– these including all the Parliamentarians, nominees from
political parties and civil society, and delegates chosen to represent
special interest groups such as war veterans. Despite lack of organisation
and violent politically-inspired disruption of proceedings on the
first day and logistical problems the next day allowing for only
a few hours’ consultation, the Select Committee felt able
to declare the conference a success. One more theme was added to
the Select Committee’s list, making seventeen in all. These
themes were to form the basis of the work of the Select Committee
from then on.
there was a total failure to stick to the GPA timetable: From the
holding of the First All Stakeholders’ Conference onwards
the the constitution-making process fell progressively more and
more behind the Article 6 timetable. This was a great pity. The
dragging out of the process meant that talk of elections came in
the middle of the belated outreach process in 2010, with the result
that political party rivalry disrupted many meetings and that issues
raised at some meetings sounded more like electioneering issues
than constitutional ones. Long delays also meant that resource persons
of the calibre of Professor Feltoe and Mr Sternford Moyo, who might
have been willing to serve on thematic committees if a schedule
had been set and adhered to, were lost to the process. Above all
it made the whole process outrageously expensive, antagonising many
Zimbabweans at a time when a pittance was being spent on health,
education, housing etc.]
Public Consultation Process
the Article 6 timetable the public consultation stage should have
been completed by 13th November 2009. But that date came and went
without the countrywide programme of meetings to consult the people
even having started. Problems within the inclusive government, changes
in the structure and administration of the Select Committee, funding
problems and disagreements between the parties on how to proceed
contributed to long delays.
New structure for Select Committee: The Minister of Constitutional
and Parliamentary Affairs announced measures agreed by the three
party principals to address issues of efficiency, capacity and inclusivity
of the Select Committee, which he said was “not an ordinary
Parliamentary Select Committee”. Henceforth it would be a
“special purpose vehicle set up to spearhead the constitution-making
process”. The measures included setting up an independent
Secretariat with its own office accommodation, separate from the
Parliamentary administration, and a Management Committee which included
the Minister and GPA negotiators from each of the parties in addition
to the Select Committee co-chairpersons.
Despite these measures, and the launching in December 2009 of the
Independent Secretariat and the Select Committee acronym [“COPAC”]
and logo, progress was slow.
Finalisation of thematic committees: Thematic committee chairpersons
[all Parliamentarians] and their deputies [all from civil society]
were announced in September 2009, but members were not announced
until December [There were 23 ordinary members per each of the 17
committees – making a total of 425 with the chairpersons and
May 2010: “Constitutional
talking points” – the questions or statements to be
posed by the outreach teams at the public meetings – were
finalised by the Management Committee, which substantially revised
and simplified the draft prepared for COPAC by a team of experts.
In the end, the talking points did not cover everything that should
be in a constitution; experts estimate that only about a tenth of
necessary content was covered.
June 2010: Public
consultation stage started: [This was almost a year late –
and seven months after the target set by Article 6 for the completion
of the public consultation stage.] Outreach teams were deployed
to the districts to begin meetings – there were 70 teams with
8 members each, making a total of 560 team members, who were a mix
of approximately 30% Parliamentarians and 70% from “civil
society” and included the 425 thematic committee members and
135 others. There were also support staff for each team. There teams
held meetings in all the country’s 1857 wards. There were
logistical problems right from the start – transport not arranged,
hotel bookings muddled, not enough recording equipment distributed,
etc. As a result many of the first week’s meetings had to
be rescheduled. Some meetings were also postponed at the last minute
to accommodate public interest in watching World Cup soccer matches
So many Harare meetings were disrupted by violence and intimidation,
coaching of participants and bussing in of outsiders that the COPAC
management committee decided to repeat them at the end of October.
The bulk of “ordinary” outreach meetings at ward level
in all the country’s districts were over by the end of the
month. At each outreach meeting what was said was captured by rapporteurs
and their reports were validated by the team chairperson and deputy.
Special outreach meetings for such groups as the disabled, youth
and parliamentarians were concluded..
Diaspora: COPAC promises of extensive consultation with the millions
of Zimbabwean in the Diaspora were not satisfactorily fulfilled,
although co-chairpersons met some Diaspora representatives in South
Africa. Eventually persons in the Diaspora were able to complete
questionnaires on the COPAC website [although it was only launched
in August 2010] and send in written submissions.
accredited observers of the outreach meetings concluded that there
had been so much manipulation of public participation in the outreach
– by means including intimidation, coaching of contributors
and bussing in of outsiders – that statistics reported by
the outreach teams would necessarily be suspect and would need to
be balanced by an assessment of the effect of those factors.
of Results from Public Consultations
January to March
2011: The reports from all the outreach meetings – at least
one from each ward, sometimes several, plus the extra meeting for
the disabled, etc.[see above] into an electronic database. This
involved a massive data uploading and collating process. These reports
had been captured on laptop computers in accordance with a template
framed by COPAC. Submissions made via the COPAC website, as well
as written submissions made direct to COPAC, also had to be electronically
captured and collated. This took from the beginning of January well
into March, and was marred by allegations of loss of and tampering
with data and omission of submissions from the Diaspora, and by
the involuntary absence for over three weeks of the MDC-T COPAC
co-chairperson while he was held in custody on criminal charges
described as “trumped up” by his party and supporters.
May 2011 to
October 2011: Compilation of ward, district and provincial reports
on the public consultation data: At the beginning of May the seventeen
thematic committees commenced work on synthesising all this material
into ward, district and provincial reports encapsulating the results
of the public consultation process for their thematic areas.
June 9th: Ward
reports completed: The ward reports took longer than anticipated
because it became necessary to resolve serious differences between
the political parties as to the methodology to be followed in analysing
the data from the outreach meetings; these differences centred on
ZANU-PF wanting to just do a “quantitative” analysis
[numbers for and against views on the talking points] and MDC-T
wanting to also use a “qualitative” approach [taking
account of factors such as incidences of coaching and intimidation,
understanding of talking points and the quality of the views; e.g.,
if a view is expressed that the death penalty should be retained
by a person who wants it also extended to all journalists who write
an article opposing ZANU-PF – should that be counted?]. The
ward reports then had to be consolidated into district and provincial
reports. This was delayed by renewed disagreements about methodology.
COPAC got stakeholders to agree to a combination of the approaches,
with frequency or preponderance not allowed as an absolute determinate
of the popularity or importance of a concept.
District reports completed: On 1st August the thematic committees,
down-sized in the interests of efficiency and economy and in the
process omitting certain controversial individuals, started work
on consolidating ward reports into district reports, finishing on
16th August. They then moved on to the provincial reports, finishing
in mid- September.
Provincial reports completed: The formal COPAC announcement of the
completion of the provincial reports was delayed by the auditing
of the provincial and district reports; this was done by a team
composed of 4 representatives from each of the three GPA parties,
3 quality control experts nominated by each of the parties and COPAC
data collection staff.
– Writing of the national report: On 7th October a COPAC news
release said that the writing of the national report would soon
commence and that the report would have two components, the national
statistical report and the national narrative report. On 27th October
a COPAC press statement announced the completion of the national
report and said the report would be the main document to be used
by the drafters who would be tasked to draft the new constitution
and that the way was now clear for planning the “actual drafting”,
which would commence soon. [There have been rumours, however, that
only the statistical component of the national report was satisfactorily
completed, with the narrative component still not agreed between
Constitution-Making Timetable laid down in GPA Article 6
Article 6 of
the GPA allowed a maximum of 20 months from the inception of the
inclusive government on 13th February 2009 to complete the various
stages of the constitution-making process, with time-limits for
each stage. As article 6 was not incorporated into the Constitution
by Constitution Amendment No 19, it was just a political agreement
between the parties, the timetable was not legally enforceable and
the parties were free to depart from it. The timetable deadlines,
based on the maximum time allowed for each stage under Article 6,
13 April 2009
– Select committee to be set up [within two months of inception
of a new Government].
13 July 2009
– Convening of the first All Stakeholders Conference [within
3 months of the date of the appointment of the Select Committee].
2009 – Public consultation process completed [no later than
4 months after the date of the first All Stakeholders Conference].
2010 – The draft of the Constitution tabled before a Second
All Stakeholders Conference [to be done within 3 months after completing
the public consultation process].
13 March 2010
– The Select Committee’s draft Constitution and its
accompanying report tabled before Parliament [within 1 month of
the second All-Stakeholders Conference].
13 April 2010
– Parliament [i.e. both Houses] concludes its debate on the
Constitution and Select Committee report [within one month of tabling
of draft and report].
13 July 2010
– Referendum on the new draft Constitution held [within 3
months of the conclusion of Parliament’s debate].
13 August 2010
– If approved in the Referendum, the draft Constitution gazetted
as a Bill [within 1 month of the date of the date of the referendum].
13 October 2010
– The Constitution Bill introduced in Parliament [no later
than 1 month after the expiration of the period of 30 days from
the date of its gazetting].
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