Defend the COPAC draft constitution gains - Mutare residents urged

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in partnership with Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) held a talk show at Courtald Theatre in Mutare on the 31st of October 2012 under the topic, "The Zimbabwe Constitution Making Pro-cess: Post 2nd All Stakeholders Confer-ence, What's New, What's Now and What's Next?" The talk show was held as a platform for review and feedback on the recently ended Constitution Select Com-mittee (COPAC) Second All Stakeholders' Conference of 22-23 October 2012.

Speakers present were Mr Passmore Nya-kureba MDC-T, Mr Josh Muhambi of the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube while Civil Society was represented by Mr Endy Ziyera of ZPP, Ms Peggy Mapfumo of Zimbabwe Layers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Mr Okay Machisa the Crisis in Zimba-bwe Coalition Chairperson and Director of Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) as the host.

Mr Nyakureba of the MDC-T gave feedback from the Second All Stakeholders' Confer-ence and urged participants to defend the gains found in the 18 July COPAC draft Constitution. "The COPAC draft constitu-tion is the best constitution the country can ever have", said Nyakureba. Upon being asked what will become of the views that were expressed at the 2nd ASC con-ference, Nyakureba responded that the views that were expressed at the 2nd ASC are being compiled into a report and will be tabled in Parliament together with the COPAC draft. He however highlighted that there is no fixed date for the referendum but expectations are that the referendum takes place in February 2013.

"At this given stage the country cannot afford to abandon the constitution making process, for the people of Zimbabwe have invested a lot in the process", reinforced Nyakureba. He went on to dismiss the fears that the draft constitution may be vulnerable to possible manipulation by politicians and emphasised that if it happens that there are disagreements in Parliament, the principals to the GPA negotiators will intervene as they have the final say in the process.

Mr Endy Ziyera in his presentation applauded how the Second All Stakeholders' Conference was held in a peaceful environment. Ziyera commended how delegates conducted themselves in a courteous manner unlike the First All Stakeholders Conference held in 2009 which was characterized by violence whereby some delegates and observers were assaulted resulting in adjournment of proceedings.

Mr Ziyera further highlighted that supporting the COPAC draft which so far in its state, grants Zimbabweans justiciable civil, political, and socio-economic rights. "We want a constitution that realises the importance of all rights to every citizen and one that guarantees free and fair elections in Zimbabwe and so far the COPAC draft captures our expectations. So as we await the finalisation of the constitution making let us support the COPAC draft and move with it."

In sharing the Civil Society experiences at the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference, Ms Peggy Takavagadza from ZLHR expressed concern over the questionable inclusivity of other political parties as well as the high level of political party interference from all three political parties to the GPA in the accreditation of civil society participants.
Mr Josh Muhambi of the MDC-N in his presentation shed more light on their boycotting of the opening ceremony of the Se-cond All Stakeholders' conference citing that,

"We boycotted the opening of the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference because we have no business in telling ZANU-PF or the MDC-T who their leaders are and so no other party should tell us who our leader is and we could not accept Mutambara being endorsed as a Principal of our party."

Participants however regretted the initial boycott of the proceedings by Professor Welshman Ncube's party, as a critical con-stituency of this national process, but however commended the SADC facilitation team for its interventions to ensure the par-ty's participation in the thematic sessions.

At that juncture Mr Okay Machisa the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairperson urged all political players to put aside personal differences for the good of the nation as the constitution making process is now close to the final stages. Mr Machisa also took the opportunity to posit that civil society should not be classified as ambits of political parties. "We are not confused we know what we want. Our role as civil society at the 2nd ASC was to influence the people of Zimbabwe to contribute meaningful to the constitution making process", said Mr Machisa in response to allegations of civil society affiliation to political parties.

Participants at the meeting also appealed for the three Global Political Agreement (GPA) principals to allow Parliament to com-plete the crafting of the new constitution so that the country goes for a referendum.

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