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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • The Constitution-making process: way forward
    Douglas Togaraseyi Mwonzora
    November 01, 2012

    At the official opening of the Second All Stakeholders Conference, Copac clearly spelt out the terms reference of the conference. First, the conference was to receive a report on the constitution making process from. Second, Copac was supposed to table the draft constitution, as required by article 6 of the Global Political Agreement, to the conference. Third, equipped with all proper documentation, the delegates were supposed to make their commends and recommendations to the draft constitution from Copac.

    It is clear that the key deliverable of the conference were the recommendations of the stakeholders on the draft constitution. It turned out that most of these recommendations took the form of proposals for amendments to the draft constitution. Some of these recommendations were clearly unanimously agreed to by the delegates in the relevant groups while other recommendations for amendment were not agreed upon by the delegates.

    In respect of those recommendations where there was consensus among the delegates, the way forward is for Copac to effect the proposed changes to the draft constitution without any undue delay unless the proposals do not change the substance of the draft constitution.

    However, regarding recommendations that were not agreed to Copac can not effect these proposed changes. This is simply because, unlike the first category, these recommendations were not adopted. In respect of these, because there is no agreement to amend, the default position, that is to say the status quo in the draft remains. That is to say there is no basis for Copac to vary the position that is there.

    Sight must never be lost that the Copac draft is a product of the outreach process and the inter-party negotiations. Therefore lack of unanimity to change the draft represents a vote of confidence in the draft constitution. Therefore while changes have to be effected in respect of those recommendations where there is unanimity, those recommendations in respect of which there is no unanimity must fail by virtue of their failure to amass the necessary support from the stakeholders.

    A worrying discovery by Copac is that in a bid to buttress their recommendations, some delegates resorted to falsely claiming that their demands were based on the national statistical reports. Some of these even went as far as to purport to quote portions of the national statistical report that do not exist.

    The correct approach is that where a delegate sought to rely on a falsehood, then their submission or recommendations so based on falsehood can not stand. Such information can not be carried forward as if it were true. It would be tragic for some political parties to seek to create deadlocks over information that was false. It is the worst form of treachery and betrayal of the Zimbabwean people. The fraudsters and cheats who lied that their submissions were based on the national statistical report can not rely on their falsehoods to create political deadlocks.

    Equally, in respect of areas in which they failed to secure the unanimity of the stakeholders, political parties can not rely on that failure to create political deadlocks at this stage. They had ample opportunity to ganner support for their proposals but failed presumably because the people did not identify with their recommendations.

    In terms of article 6, Copac is now obliged to prepare the national report for presentation to Parliament together with the draft constitution. After the submission to parliament, the executive through the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs would take over the process and among other issues prepare for the referendum in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

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