Masvingo Civil society engages COPAC

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition facilitated a platform for engagement between COPAC and civil society organizations in Masvingo on the 21st of July 2012. The meeting, attended by COPAC co-chairperson Honorable Douglas Mwonzora and 32 people representing 24 civil society organizations in Masvingo was meant as a platform for engagement on the progress of COPAC and initial briefs from it on what the Draft constitution carries. .

The COPAC co-chairperson highlighted to the meeting that the proposed constitution included one of the most extensive bills of rights and devolution of power.   He noted that the constitution proposes a provincial council, which consists of members of the house of assembly, and council which will be headed by the provincial governor. He informed the meeting that should the constitution pass with a yes vote at the referendum stage that the provincial governor would no longer be appointed by the executive but would be appointed by the political party with the majority parliamentary and council seats in a particular province.

Honorable Mwonzora expressed his optimism that the constitution would pass through the referendum, adding that as COPAC they had not planned to fail. He further argued that in spite of all the talk about negotiating the draft, that the draft constitution produced by COPAC is reflective of people views and aspirations and dismissed allegations of disregarding people's views during the drafting stage. Honorable Mwonzora suggested that all things being equal, the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference was expected to take place by end of August 2012 while the referendum would follow 2 months later in October 2012.

Civic Society representatives attending the meeting, thanked Hon. Mwonzora for sharing and commended his high spirits and optimism, but cautioned that politicians being politicians they would take the time to read the draft themselves and pass their own judgments.   Some of the things that participants said they would be on the lookout for included the following issues:

  1. What the constitution would say about the appointment of serving military personnel to head civilian institutions
  2. What mechanisms the contitution would put in place to allow for automatic   domestication of International Covenants ratified by the government
  3. Clarity on the outline of the jurisdiction of the provincial governors and relationship with local government.
  4. What power the constitution would vest in the executive and how this could be reduced through mechanisms for separation of powers and balance of authority.

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