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Second draft halted by party differences - Constitution Watch
May 19, 2012
of Second Draft Halted by Party Differences
Forum failed in their preparations
for getting the second draft to the lead drafters. The “Forum”,
consisting of the three COPAC co-chairs and six expert advisers,
two nominated by each of the three GPA
political parties, met on Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th May to
examine the comments on the revised first draft received from the
political parties. The plan was that they would then, in the light
of the comments, formulate their instructions for the lead drafters
to prepare a second draft. They first had to decide how to set about
incorporating the political party comments – but they were
unable to agree about how to do so. By the end of the meeting they
had still not resolved this disagreement on “methodology”
and the problem has been referred to the Management Committee, which
is due to meet on Monday 21st May. On the same day it will also
be considered by the full Select Committee.
- MDC-T has
essentially approved the revised first draft but made suggestions
for minor editing and cleaning-up. It sees no need to re-open
issues of substance previously agreed on and embodied in the revised
has rejected the draft, raising major objections on many substantive
issues [including such issues as Parliamentary and presidential
powers, the proposed National Prosecuting Authority and appointment
of judges and security force personnel] and asserting that the
draft does not reflect the views of the people submitted during
the outreach process and captured in the COPAC National Report.
It wants substantial changes made.
- MDC has
recorded its reservations about aspects of the draft and said
it is so incomplete that it is impossible to make useful comments.
This is a major
new impasse. It seems to be far more than a difference of opinion
over “methodology”, which is how MDC-T co-chair Douglas
Mwonzora described it after the deadlock was declared on Thursday.
There is obviously an important question of principle involved in
the suggested revisiting or re-opening, at this late stage, of issues
of substance which had previously been agreed by ZANU-PF’S
representatives on the Select Committee.
to this situation is outlined below.
for Feedback from Political Parties
At its 30th
April meeting the Management Committee decided that:
- copies of
the revised first draft be given to the GPA political parties
for their comments and these comments be submitted to COPAC
- on receipt
of these comments COPAC would prepare instructions for the lead
drafters, taking aboard the political parties’ comments
and the previously parked issues, such as dual citizenship and
the number of Vice-Presidents, which the Management Committee
said they had resolved
- the Management
Committee would in the meantime would remain seized with the major
unresolved issue – devolution.
On 10th May
COPAC announced in a press statement signed by all three co-chairs
that the consultations mandated by the Management Committee 30th
April had been completed and that the “feedback” from
the political parties was now available. Accordingly the full Select
Committee would meet on Monday 14th May to consider this feedback.
Thereafter, a second draft would be completed and submitted to the
Management Committee for its review.
Select Committee Meeting: Monday 14th May
The full Select
Committee met as planned on 14th May. No official COPAC statement
was issued, but the co-chairs spoke to the press after the meeting.
It emerged from what they said that:
of the Select Committee had been supplied with the comments from
the political parties, and it had been agreed that the Co-chairs
Forum be reconvened to consider the comments from the political
parties and decide on the changes that needed to be made to the
revised first draft as a result of those comments.
the lead drafters would be called back and given the necessary
instructions for them to produce the second draft.
- after completion
the second draft would be handed to the Management Committee by
were subsequent State press articles from ZANU-PF apologists levelling
fierce criticism against the decision to delegate to the Co-chairs
Forum the responsibility of deciding on the alterations needed to
the revised first draft as a result of the input from the political
parties – clearly believing that the full Select Committee
would do a better job of accommodating ZANU-PF objections to the
revised first draft and implying a lack of confidence in ZANU-PF
co-chair Mangwana and the other ZANU-PF nominees on the Co-chairs
Drafters Not Called Back
The three lead
drafters did not participate in the meetings of the Co-chairs Forum
on 16th and 17th May. They will only called back when – or,
should that now be “if”? – COPAC’s review
of the revised first draft is completed, something that is unlikely
to occur in a matter of days. One of the drafters will in any event
not be available until the 25th May. With all the new problems –
listed above – that were raised during the consultations with
the political parties, the lead drafters may not be needed until
well after that.
will be the impact of these new delays
It is becoming
increasingly clear that the second draft cannot be completed before
the end of May. ZANU-PF at one point gave the end of May as a major
deadline for having the final draft constitution ready for a Referendum.
For months President Mugabe repeatedly insisted that if the Referendum
was not held in May he would call elections without waiting for
the new constitution. Recently, however, there have been indications
that this stance has been modified. ZANU-PF party spokesman Rugare
Gumbo said that the party’s Politburo meeting of 16th May
had decided the constitution must be completed “as soon as
possible”. He avoided saying that this meant by the end of
May and, when referring to elections, merely said that they must
be held “this year”. As most of the new problems seem
to have been raised by ZANU-PF, it is unclear whether:
- they are
going be accept further delays while the problems get ironed out,
- they are
deliberately resurrecting contentious issues thought to have been
resolved by COPAC, to ensure the process is so bogged down that
they will use the ensuing delay as a justification to go for elections
under the present constitution.
COPAC Statement Omitted Crucial Stage
COPAC in their
latest press statement of 10th May said that after completion of
the Second Draft there will be the Second All Stakeholders’
Conference followed by the Referendum. There was no mention of the
fact that Article 6 of the GPA says: within one month of the Second
All Stakeholders’ Conference ‘the draft Constitution
and the accompanying Report shall be tabled in Parliament ...and
debated in Parliament and the debate concluded within one month”.
This stage must be taken into account when discussing how much longer
the constitution-making process is going to last.
pre-Referendum Parliamentary debate is simply to take note of its
own Select Committee’s draft constitution and report. This
must be clearly distinguished from Parliament’s other function
which will come at the very end of the constitution-making process
if there is a YES vote in the Referendum. Only in that event will
Parliament will have the responsibility of passing the new constitution
What Will the New Constitution Cost?
For COPAC to
finish its task
COPAC co-ordinator Gift Marunda, COPAC needs another $5 million
to complete its part in the constitution-making process, made up
as follows: $3 million to meet debts already incurred but still
unpaid; and $2 million to cover its remaining expenses before the
Referendum. Its total expenditure, including that $5 million, will
be $45 million.
of the Referendum
the conduct of the Referendum come to $30 million, but that amount
is required by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, not by COPAC.
[Note: A current Press report suggests, incorrectly, this $30 million
will be spent by COPAC.]
for the various stages, the projected total is $75 million to the
end of the Referendum stage [this works out at about $1000 per word],
although as COPAC budgets have always been exceeded, the total may
well be more.
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