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Select Committee preparing for second draft - Constitution Watch
June 04, 2012
urges completion of Constitution
Late on Thursday
31st May, the full 25-member Select Committee plus technical advisors
completed what they called an “audit” of the first
draft of the new constitution. The audit showed that the lead
drafters had followed their instructions and not imported their
own or other “alien” views. But, the other task the
Select Committee were working on ¨C namely, to see what could
be included from the feedback from the GPA
political parties ¨C was not finished, because they could not
reach agreement on what to include, and the buck has once again
has been passed to the Management Committee.
Parties Feedback Under Consideration
When the revised
first draft came back from the three GPA political parties to whom
it had been sent for comment the two MDC parties basically endorsed
it with a few suggestions and reservations that the remaining unsolved
issues must be resolved and put in the draft before they could finally
endorse it. [See Constitution
Watch 19th May] ZANU-PF however came up with a 29-page commentary
which the other parties claimed contained newly introduced demands
or reopened demands on which some compromise had already been agreed.
Their significant demands largely centred round taking away powers
given to Parliament
in the draft, increasing the powers of the President, the accountability
of security forces and objections to any form of devolution.
Mwonzora said that,“We completely rejected that 29-page document
and said that we should work on the draft the way we’ve always
done" that anything done by way of revision would be confined
to documents all parties had agreed to and signed. He insisted it
had not been agreed that ZANU-PF was free to bring up new issues
that would drastically change previously agreed positions. But ZANU-PF
are still manoeuvring to get their demands met.
Sequence of Events
On Monday 14th
May the decision was made by the Select Committee to delegate to
the Co-chairs’ Forum the work of going through the first draft
in detail, correcting errors and considering what feedback from
the political parties to accommodate and then formulating instructions
to the lead drafters for the preparation of a second draft.
16th May the Co-chairs Forum, consisting of the Select Committee
co-chairs plus six experts advisors, two nominated by each of the
three parties, started meeting to do this work.
On 17th May
an impasse was reached in the Co-chairs Forum. Hardliners within
ZANU-PF had already raised objections to the Select Committee’s
14th May decision to leave to the Co-chairs’ Forum the decision
on whether or not to include their demands. When agreement could
not be reached a work stoppage was called. The matter was referred
to the Management Committee and the full Select Committee.
May the Management Committee met to discuss the impasse
On 23rd May
at a Select Committee meeting, a way forward was arrived at to end
the deadlock ¨C that instead of the Co-chairs Forum going through
the revised draft and the party comments, the whole Select Committee
plus technical advisers would go through the revised draft following
a two-tier methodology, before fresh instructions were drawn up
for the lead drafters.
On Monday 28th
May the Select Committee started their work. [The impasse over ZANU-PF’s
new demands resulted in nearly two wasted weeks even before work
Forward - Two-Tier Methodology
1. There would
be an audit of the revised first draft, going through it clause
by clause through each of the 18 chapters of the draft, to assess
the lead drafters’ compliance with the instructions given
to them before they began work on that draft in late March. This
was considered important in view of much publicised accusations
that the lead drafters had included their own ideas in the revised
first draft in defiance of the instructions they had been given
by COPAC. This audit would be carried out by the full Select Committee,
starting on Monday 28th May.
the audit, but keeping the two tasks separate, the full Select Committee
would also undertake a:
of the comments submitted by the three GPA political parties
other minor changes agreed on would be adopted. If there was disagreement
on changes asked for by a particular party ¨ for instance, on
substantial changes which would involve reversing positions previously
agreed between the parties ¨ those disagreement/s would have
to be referred to the Management Committee for resolution.
The audit -
This part of the process appears to have gone relatively smoothly
and has overwhelmingly established that the lead drafters did comply
with their instructions ¨C thus debunking the accusations that
these three highly respected professionals had imported their own
un-Zimbabwean ideas into the draft and departed from the instructions
given them by COPAC.
of political party comments - Minor editorial changes and corrections
of mistakes suggested were agreed on. But ZANU-PF’s demands
for substantial changes to be made to the draft were not accepted.
The Select Committee decided they had done as much as they could
and the disagreements have been referred to the Management Committee.
Committee Meetings Schedule
Committee has planned to meet on Tuesday 5th, Wednesday 6th and
Thursday 7th May. It is to be hoped they can resolve matters promptly
¨C but there will be competing claims on the time of members
who are Ministers ¨C Cabinet on Tuesday, Parliament [with important
Bills] on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Note: In Constitution
Watch of 26th April 2012 we incorrectly said that the Minister of
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs chairs the COPAC Management
Committee. In fact it is usually chaired by the party negotiators
in rotation, although occasionally the Minister has chaired.
will Lead Drafters Start the Second Draft?
The three lead
drafters were summoned on Wednesday 30th May to start a second draft.
It was a puzzling summons, as reports indicated that there were
still difficulties reaching agreement between the three parties.
In fact the drafters, having reached the drafting venue, were sent
home again and told to come back possibly on Monday 4th June or
soon thereafter. As the Select Committee has referred disagreements
to the Management Committee, they will probably not be called this
week nor for some time. There would seem to be little point in merely
producing an interim second draft pending decisions on the areas
of disagreement. There remains the obvious ever-present risk that
the Management Committee will not be able to solve the issue of
ZANU-PF demands which are totally unacceptable to the other parties
and that there may be another deadlock. If the issue is referred
to party principals and their advisors it may result in a whole
new raft of demands.
Summit Calls for Finalisation of Constitution
The final SADC
Summit Communique on 1st June urged the parties to the GPA to finalise
the constitution and confirmed that together with agreed reforms
it was part of the Election Roadmap to be fulfilled before elections.
Hopefully, with SADC endorsement the constitution will not be abandoned
in favour of elections this year.
Words from COPAC Spokesperson
process is nothing but politics, COPAC member Hon Jesse Majome
said at a civil society meeting organised by the Action for Conflict
Transformation. The politics of the constitutional process is acrimonious,
there is deep polarisation in Zimbabwe.
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