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Stakeholders conference later in October - Constitution Watch
Veritas
September 26, 2012

Second All Stakeholders Conference to be held Later in October

Management Committee Reschedules Second All Stakeholders Conference

After first scheduling the Second All Stakeholders Conference for 4th – 6th October, COPAC has decided that to organise the conference so soon would be unrealistic. They are now aiming at holding the Conference before the end of October, probably in the third week of the month.

In fact, setting it for the first week of October was surprising in view of the previous lack of clarity about the final form of the draft constitution to be presented to the conference – MDCs insisting on the COPAC draft and ZANU-PF on the draft as amended by their Politburo. Also COPAC had assured the public that there would be plenty of time to consider the draft and that it would be translated into several languages before the Conference.

Sequence of Events

Constitution Watch of 20th September described the situation up to the 19th September and how the seven week-long deadlock was loosening, with ZANU-PF saying the COPAC draft could go forward if the national statistical report went with it.

Wednesday 19th September, a principals’ meeting at last took place, and President Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai and Prof Mutambara agreed that the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference should be expedited and that COPAC should take both the COPAC draft and the COPAC National Statistical Report to the Conference. [Professor Ncube excused himself from the meeting for family reasons.]

It was reported that the Principals had insisted on 4th – 6th October, presumably wanting something to report to the Facilitator before the SADC Organ Summit scheduled for 7th – 8th October. In fact President Mugabe has since met President Zuma, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York and assured him that the process is back on track and that Zimbabwe will not let SADC down.

Thursday 20th September, COPAC full Select Committee met It reached decisions on numbers of delegates, civil society participation, documents to be tabled, admission of observers, the purpose and functions of the Conference, and the need to put in place measures to ensure maintenance of security during the proceedings. Subcommittees were appointed to organise aspects of the Conference.

Monday 24th September the COPAC Management Committee decided the Conference could not be held as soon as the 4th October but should convene before the end of October. The need to ensure adequate funding was a factor.

Conference NOT a Drafting Conference

COPAC is emphatic that the Conference will not be turned into a drafting conference. Its purpose is to enable delegates to make comments and recommendations on the COPAC draft. Their contributions will be recorded, and after the Conference COPAC will consider all comments and recommendations and make appropriate adjustments to the COPAC draft.

Arrangements for the Conference

These are the arrangements so far and could be subject to change

Dates and Venue and Opening Ceremony

Dates for and length of the Conference [one or two days] are still to be settled. A decision on the Conference venue has been deferred while the possibility of holding it in Bulawayo is explored. The party principals will open the proceedings of the Conference to underline its importance for the future of Zimbabwe.

Numbers of Delegates and Participation by Civil Society

The number of delegates [1 100] has been severely pruned compared with the First All Stakeholders’ Conference in 2009 which was attended by approximately 4000 people. It is also less than half the figure of 2 500 that COPAC and its funders were talking about earlier this year.

Breakdown of delegates between MPs and Others

Total ..................................... 1 100 made up as follows:

Members of Parliament ......... 280

Other delegates ..................... 820 Breakdown of the 820 “other delegates”

GPA parties [30%].................. 246 [82 nominated by each party]

Civil Society [70%] ................. 574 [see below for how selected]

Selection of civil society delegates

The 570 civil society delegates will be identified by their organisations. In other words, COPAC will not select the individual civil society delegates. COPAC will compile a list of the organisations to be represented, aiming at comprehensive inclusivity. Each organisation will fill its quota with delegates of its choice. The term “civil society” for this purpose embraces Zimbabwean NGOs [not international NGOs], faith-based organisations, the business, industrial, agricultural and mining sectors, the labour movement, youth and women’s organisations, disabled persons, etc..

Civil society organisations have conveyed to COPAC their concern that the civil society delegates should not be regarded as proxies for any of the political parties. It is to be hoped that COPAC respects this concern and ensures that the list of invited organisations does not reflect political partisanship.

Documents to be Used

COPAC will provide delegates with the following documents:

  • the COPAC draft constitution
  • the complete National Statistical Report – i.e. not only the documentation based on the reports from the outreach process but also the reports on:
  • the special extra outreach meetings for Parliamentarians; youth; the disabled; and the Diaspora
  • the online outreach [responses to the questionnaire on the COPAC website]
  • written submissions received by COPAC from organisations and individuals
  • the documents making up the basic instructions given to the three lead drafters [see further below]
  • if ready in time, translations of the draft and a Braille version.

Note: ZANU-PF’s re-draft with proposed amendments will not be included in the documents that COPAC supplies to Conference delegates although ZANU-PF is likely to want to supply it to its supporters and possibly other delegates.

The Documents Given to the Drafters

COPAC’s Foreword to its National Statistical Report explains that the three lead drafters were not provided with the voluminous statistical reports. Instead, they were given the following four documents, all derived from the national and provincial statistical reports:

  • the constitutional issues document – listing the issues to be covered in the constitution [these were drawn up by a team of technical experts drawn from the three GPA political parties and representatives of the Chiefs’ Council, working from the reports of the outreach process and consultative meetings with MPs, children, the disabled, the Diaspora, the website submissions and sectoral submissions made direct to COPAC]
  • the gap-filling document – prepared by a team of local technical experts mandated by COPAC to identify the gaps in the information collected during the consultative process and advise on how to fill the gaps, guided by research into best practices in constitution-making
  • the constitutional principles formulated by COPAC
  • the draft framework – indicating how COPAC wished the various parts of the constitution to be arranged.

Methodology of the Conference

Details of the methodology to be followed are not yet available. Delegates will, however, break up into groups to consider individual chapters of the draft constitution. Each group will, as with all COPAC mechanisms, have three co-chairs – one from each GPA party – and the co-chairs will report to the plenary session of the Conference.

Observers

COPAC co-chair Douglas Mwonzora has given an assurance that observers will be allowed at the Conference. Accreditation with COPAC will be required.

Court Case

The Select Committee has not yet agreed on how to respond to the case in which the Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations and its president Goodson Nguni have asked the Supreme Court to order publication of the National Statistical Report in the local media. The application was launched before the parties agreed the report would go to the Conference.

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied

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