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Christmas present from Principals' Committee - Constitution Watch
December 21, 2012
Not Yet Resolved by Principals’ New Committee
Watch of Saturday 8th December took the story of the continuing
deadlock over the COPAC draft
constitution to the point at which the special new Committee set
up by the principals had had their inaugural meeting on Wednesday
5th December, and scheduled a second meeting for Monday 10th December.
This bulletin continues
from that point.
Conference Call for Completion of Constitution by Christmas
emerging from ZANU-PF on the final day of its Conference on 8th
December included one condemning the COPAC draft and insisting that
unless the constitution-making
process was concluded before Christmas the President should
call an election under the current Constitution. This did not bode
well for an inter-party meeting of minds over the COPAC draft during
the upcoming deliberations of the principals’ new Committee.
The text of the resolution was as follows [preamble omitted]:
Now therefore, Conference;
(a) Deplores the delaying
tactics employed by the MDC formations which have caused a constitution-making
process that was supposed to take 18 months to last but has so far
taken 44 months and is still going on with no certainty as to when
it would be concluded.
(b) Is outraged that
the draft constitution produced by COPAC on July 18, 2012 deviated
in serious material respects from the views of the people expressed
during the COPAC outreach exercise and which are contained in the
National Statistical Report.
(c) Reiterates that any
draft constitution emanating from the COPAC constitution making
process must adhere to and conform with the views of the people
expressed during the COPAC outreach exercise and repeated at the
Second All Stakeholders’ Conference.
(d) Calls upon the party
to resist all attempts and machinations by some international forces
and their local proxies to smuggle nefarious values and practices
onto the proposed new constitution.
(e) Implores the GPA
parties to conclude the constitution making process before Christmas
this year, failing which the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief
of the Defence Forces should in terms of the law issue the relevant
Proclamation dissolving Parliament and fixing a date for the holding
of the harmonised elections under the current Constitution.”
Extraordinary Summit Calls for Referendum on New Constitution Before
Summits of the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and
Security Cooperation and SADC Heads of State and Government took
place in Dar es
Salaam on 7th and 8th December. President Mugabe was attending
the ZANU-PF Conference in Gweru, so Zimbabwe was represented by
Foreign Affairs Minister Mumbengegwi. The main subject of the Summit
meetings was the situation in the Eastern DRC, but President Zuma
also reported on the latest developments in Zimbabwe, having been
briefed by his facilitation team after their visit to Harare at
the end of November.
of the full Summit contained only one short paragraph on Zimbabwe,
but the emphasis was very different from the resolution adopted
by delegates to the ZANU-PF party Conference the same day. The SADC
position remains that the elections in 2013 must follow the completion
of the constitution-making process, including the referendum. The
key points [underlining by Veritas] in the paragraph were these:
“9.2 Summit urged
the political stakeholders in Zimbabwe to fully implement the GPA.
9.3 Summit also urged
the political stakeholders to finalise the constitutional process
including referendum before the holding of the elections in 2013.”
reference to the constitutional Referendum makes it clear that SADC
would not accept the fizzling out of the constitution-making process
without the people having had their say in a Referendum.
Responses to ZANU-PF Conference Resolution
Unsurprisingly, the response
of the other GPA parties to the ZANU-PF conference demands on the
constitution was unwillingness to go back on their previous position
that the time for changes to the COPAC draft was past.
of Principals’ Committee Unproductive So Far
The Committee did not
meet as scheduled on Monday 10th December because MDC-T members
were absent attending the funeral of the daughter of a senior party
member. But it did meet on Tuesday 11th December and Thursday 13th
December. As Ministers on the Committee missed the regular Tuesday
Cabinet meeting in order to attend Tuesday’s meeting, it seemed
the Committee’s task was being accorded high priority.
But this week the Committee
has not met. On three occasions members’ other commitments
have resulted in failure to assemble a quorum. The latest word from
the Committee’s chairperson, Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, is that he hopes the Committee
will be able to meet on Christmas Eve, Monday 24th December, to
continue its discussions.
Although Minister Matinenga
has been tight-lipped about the progress, if any, that the Committee
may have made in resolving sticking points, it seems inevitable
that the any pre-Christmas report to the principals by the Committee
will have to be that it has not completed its assignment.
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