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Committee and drafters in push for final draft - Constitution Watch
June 17, 2012
SADC Summit Constitution-Making Process Speeded Up
of the SADC Heads of State Extraordinary Summit of 1st June in Luanda,
urged the GPA
political parties “to finalise the constitution-making process
and subject it to a referendum thereafter”. The communiqué
also made it clear that SADC expect the process to be complete before
the country goes to elections, as it called on the parties “
to develop an implementation mechanism and to set out time frames
for the full implementation of the Roadmap to Elections”.
The Roadmap [available from firstname.lastname@example.org]
stresses that the constitution must be in place before elections.
from SADC has had an impact on both the Constitution Parliamentary
Select Committee [COPAC] and the Management Committee who seem to
be making a determined effort to expedite their work. It has also
had an impact on all other stakeholders in the process, in whom
confidence has been restored that the process
will be completed. With all the President’s rhetoric of
elections this year with or without a constitution, many people
had started to think that the process might just be dragged out
until elections were proclaimed and would then be abandoned.
at 1st June
On 1st June
[as recorded in Constitution
Watch of 1st June] the position was that COPAC had – on
31st May – successfully completed its “audit”
of the first draft
of the constitution for compliance with the instructions given to
the three lead drafters, but had been unable to reach consensus
on new demands for substantial changes to the draft made by ZANU-PF
in a 29-page document commenting on the draft, a document which
was “totally rejected” by MDC-T – causing a problem
needing referral to the Management Committee.
from 1st June to Date
Committee did not meet last week to discuss the 31st May deadlock
over the ZANU-PF demands, because the Select Committee decided to
resume meetings to have another look at them – presumably
taking into consideration the SADC pressure to finalise the constitution-making
On 6th June
the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs told the
House of Assembly
that the Select Committee had been meeting to consider the comments
submitted by the political parties and that two documents were being
prepared for the Management Committee: “a document of agreed
issues and a document of disputes”. The object of the exercise
was for the Management Committee to know precisely which issues
needed their attention.
On June 7th
a COPAC press statement said “we would like to inform the
nation that drafting is almost complete”.
On 11th and
12th June – Monday and Tuesday this week – the full
Select Committee finalised its documents for the Management Committee.
This set the stage for the Management Committee to meet [see below].
In fact the
final draft is not almost complete. The Select Committee did not
during its meeting resolve all the issues. They managed to agree
to compromise on some of ZANU-PF demands but there are still major
disagreements between the parties in the process. A major sticking-point
is still devolution.
Committee and Drafters to Meet 17th to 20th June
Committee has set aside from the evening of Sunday 17th to Wednesday
20th June for a “retreat” at a venue outside Harare,
during which it is intended to resolve the issues that have been
holding up the finalisation of the second draft of the constitution.
The three lead drafters [Justice Chinhengo, Mr Crozier and Mrs Madzonga]
have been summoned to be there.
Management Committee consists of:
- the negotiators
of the three GPA parties – Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas
Goche for ZANU-PF, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses Mzila
Ndlovu, who replaced Welshman Ncube, for MDC, and Tendai Biti
and Elton Mangoma for MDC-T. [As they are all government ministers,
they have sometimes had stand-ins if out of the country on government
business; for example Emerson Mnangagwa has stood in for Mr Chinamasa,
and Jameson Timba for Mr Biti.]
- the COPAC
co-chairs, and the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary
The three lead
drafters will be expected to modify the first revised draft, which
has been widely publicised. The drafting will start immediately,
using the COPAC document of agreed revisions. Simultaneously, the
Management Committee will be meeting to iron out the disputed issues.
As each issue is ironed they will give further instructions to the
lead drafters. It is hoped by the end of the “retreat”
to come up with a second draft. Whether they will be able to do
this remains to be seen. If issues are still unresolved they will
be taken to the party principals.
stage: Second All Stakeholders’ Conference
If a final draft
does emerge after the Management Committee and drafters’ “retreat”,
then the next stage is the preparations for Second All Stakeholders
In their 7th
June press statement the COPAC co-chairs said that as drafting was
“almost complete” the Committee was now “seized
with preparations for the next stage of the process, which is the
convening of the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference”.
But, no date
for the Conference was mentioned in the statement. This is not surprising
because the date will obviously be dictated by when the second draft
of the constitution is completed and approved by the principals.
Nor did the
statement go into detail about the preparations for the conference.
Important pre-Conference actions that have been mentioned in previous
COPAC press statements include the following:
of the draft into all vernacular languages and into Braille –
a considerable undertaking in itself
of the draft in large numbers for distribution to participants
in advance of the Conference – presumably in time to permit
them to study it, consult their constituencies and formulate positions
to be aired at the Conference
- a “mini-outreach”
to explain the draft and help people familiarise themselves with
it – an obviously desirable exercise.
In March COPAC
announced that the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference would
be limited to 2 500 delegates – 1 500 fewer than the 4 000
that attended the First All Stakeholders’ Conference in July
2009. It is to be hoped that the reduction in numbers will assist
COPAC to avoid the confusion that characterised so much of the First
All Stakeholders’ Conference – when pre-Conference registration
of delegates was inordinately slow and inefficient, there were failures
in accommodation and catering arrangements, and the opening, when
it eventually happened very late, was disrupted by a noisy and violent
invasion of the conference hall, and proceedings had to be aborted.
The second day also started with continuing logistical problems.
All in all, the Conference was not generally conducive to meaningful
contributions from delegates.
Society Needs More Information on 2nd Stakeholders Conference
organisations have been meeting to strategise for the Second All
Stakeholders’ Conference. But it is difficult for them to
finalise their submissions until the draft is out. Also, numbers
of sectoral and provincial representation need to be made known
to them. It is hoped that, as numbers are limited, Parliament and
political parties will not swamp the process. Civil society draws
on a large constituency of educated and informed Zimbabweans, some
of whom have been considering constitutional issues for twenty years
or more. But such people – academics, practising lawyers,
judges, prominent business people, senior NGO officials etc –
cannot be expected to drop their other commitments at very short
notice. And they will be reluctant to participate in the sort of
disorganised scrimmage that occurred at the First All Stakeholders’
Conference. Many were deterred from participating at outreach meetings
because of late notice, noisy disruptions especially in Harare,
etc. Those attending will also need sufficient time to study the
draft constitution and formulate positions and submissions for the
Conference. Organisations to be represented at the Conference will
need to be given adequate notice of the date and numbers of delegates
so that they can make proper preparations.
For a process
that is supposed to be for the people, the people have been kept
in very much in the dark. There have not been enough official statements
explaining the long delays in the process since COPAC was set up
on 12th April 2009. It is understandable that there are behind-the-scenes
disagreements with three disparate political parties at the helm,
and no doubt COPAC wanted to maintain confidence that the process
was proceeding smoothly, but in the face of a four-year delay COPAC’s
overly optimistic and bland press reports have resulted in a certain
cynicism. It would have been more encouraging to keep the public
accurately informed all the way. A big problem for the public has
been the contradictory interviews given by COPAC members to the
press to explain the delays. The latest COPAC signed press release
illustrates this: “The Select Committee also takes this opportunity
to correct reports in some sections of the media that the process
has stalled because of bickering amongst the political parties.”
But COPAC co-chairs and spokesperson had stated individually to
the media that there was this problem. It would also have helped
the public to gauge whether the draft really does capture “what
the people said” if the National Report on the outreach stage
and the Diaspora and written submissions had been made public.
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