Principals' COPAC interference further derails GPA timelines

The Constitution Making Process, which has already taken an inordinately long 44 months (4 months shy of 4 years) instead of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)'s stipulated eighteen months, is likely to miss another stipulated timeline this week, amid growing fears the process might be hijacked by the GPA principals.

The Global Political Agreement (GPA) in Article 6.1 (c) (v) states that "the draft Constitution and the accompanying Report shall be tabled before Parliament within 1 month of the Second All Stakeholders Conference €. Objective indicators on the ground suggest that the Parliamentary Select Committee is unlikely to meet the one month timeline between the conclusion of the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference and the submission of the draft Constitution and Second All Stakeholders Conference report to parliament for debate, which ends on Friday 23 November 2012.

Speaking to the Crisis Report today Wednesday 21st of November 2012, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Director Mr McDonald Lewanika expressed disappointment over the haggling in the Inclusive Government (IG) which continues to further delay the constitution making process that started four years ago. He said that,

"The drafting of a new charter for Zimbabwe has already been fraught with delays instigated by myopic political interests, which have held this key national process hostage. After the 2nd All Stakeholders conference, one would have thought that we would be on the home stretch to the referendum where the people of Zimbabwe would decide. But the hi-jacking of the process, which started with the contracting of the key national process to politicians through the GPA seems to be continuing to the detriment of national interests and progress. €

Mr. Lewanika's statements were informed by the fact that the Constitution Making Process, seems to have once again run into a brick wall. The new deadlock is over the contested issues from the recommendations made at the Second All-Stakeholders Conference held from the 21st to the 23rd October 2012 in Harare.

This follows the release of the draft Constitution on the 18th July 2012, and subsequent holding of the Second All-Stakeholders Conference, after months of attrition on the process momentum between the political parties in the GNU, over the making of the new supreme law of the country. The new Charter is supposed to replace the 32-year-old Lancaster House Constitution which was a product of the 1979 negotiations for independence.

On Monday 12 November 2012, the Management Committee of COPAC which comprises of the negotiators from the three GPA political parties reportedly could not agree on the way forward on contested issues. This was reported to have happened at a meeting which they were supposed to discuss the final report on the conference produced by the COPAC Parliamentary Select Committee. The initial report is said to have been returned to the Select Committee for fine-tuning based on Management Committee comments.

The said Management Committee meeting on Monday 19th November 2012 is reported to have agreed that the areas of the conference report which captured recommendations by the delegates where there was agreement by Second All Stakeholders Conference participants could be made part of the draft Constitution.  However, the same meeting is reported to have failed to make any further headway on issues where there was no consensus. The afore mentioned developments are what is giving rise to renewed fears that the draft Constitution will suffer further delays, or manipulation before Zimbabweans can finally go to a constitutional referendum and elections.

The MDC formations insist that the draft Constitution should be taken to parliament for debate without the contested issues. Meanwhile, Zanu-pf insists that the three principals, President Robert Mugabe (Zanu-pf), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Professor Welshman Ncube (MDC-N) must negotiate on the way forward. This is the position stated by President Robert Mugabe when he addressed the Second All Stakeholders Conference on the 22ndOctober 2012 at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC).

However, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Director Mr Lewanika has warned the principals against hijacking the constitution making process. He said that,

"This period and process of Constitution Making is also a test of the leaders' ability to adhere to agreements they append their signatures to. The 3 Political leaders referred to as the Principals signed the GPA, which stipulates a clear process in terms of the constitution making process. Article 6 is far from perfect, but instead of doing that to enhance it, the attempt by President Mugabe to Hi-Jack constitution making, makes the article 6 process worse and not better. The leaders must honor their commitments where article 6 is concerned and allow Parliament to finish the job that they have been given jurisdiction of by the GPA and the Constitution of our Republic. €

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Director suggested that the position by President Mugabe that he wants the Principals to have final say is indicative of the challenges that ZANU PF maybe having in terms of their succession and factional politics. He said:

"The attempt to hi-jack this process especially on President Mugabe's part is a betrayal of the possibility that he may be a man who is not in control of his party, and feels that those they have sent to negotiate on his behalf in this process are not keeping him in the loop or representing his interests. €

Lewanika suggested that if the two MDC Formations are loyal to their public positions on the attempt to hi-jack the process by the principals, or President Mugabe, there was no way that they would be railroaded into doing so by President Mugabe alone.   He added that the two formations needed to be held accountable by the people on the basis of these public positions, adding that;

"President Mugabe also needs to be held accountable, based on his statements that every sovereign people have the right to author their own constitution. He is not the sovereign people of Zimbabwe, and should not negate the people's views and having them stand through an unnecessary wish to have the " final say € when the people are the ones who should have this final say. €

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