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"Our Relationship is not cast in stone"¦it is fluid," - COPAC Told by Civics

The 13th of October 2012, saw the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) take its series of informative debates on constitutional reform to Chinhoyi. The Chinhoyi panel was diverse, with the two Movement for Democratic Change Formations, Mavambo and Civil Society represented.

The talk show, which was attened by at least 219 people, took place in Mpata Section at the St Peters Kubatana Pastoral centre hall, and came against the background of an announcement of the dates for the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference as well as numbers of delegates, invitation criterion, venues for accreditation and the methodology to be used at the Conference which is set for the 21st to 23rd of October 2012, by COPAC.

Dr Rutendo Bonde of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, who was representing the Crisis Coalition's Human Rights Committee which she chairs, reiterated to COPAC and participants that the relationship between COPAC and civics was not cast in stone, but fluid, emphasizing that civics €¦

"are happy that COPAC has considered 7 out of our 9 demands towards the 2nd ASC, but we will continue pressing on the issues that are outstanding, and urge COPAC not to close their ears to our appeals, because a constitution is a national process which we all have to have a say in and disagreements between COPAC and CSO's should not mean divorce, €

Dr Bonde also dismissed reported attempts by COPAC to invite CSO delegates under the banner of political parties and stated that CSOs are not appendages of any political party, but rather they are independent autonomous bodies that should be allowed to exercise their rights and obligations.

Asked if Crisis Coalition was in support of the draft constitution, she indicated that, the Crisis Coalition abides by the principle that democracy is necessary to build a better Zimbabwe and cited the draft constitution as a better vehicle for democratisation than the current one, but stopped short of declaring a Coalition position, citing the divergent groups that are party to it, and an impending CSO Leaders Conference where global positions on the draft were likely to begin to emerge from ahead of the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference.

Mr Qhubani Moyo from the Movement for Democratic Change denied allegations against his party to the efffect that they had enlisted CSO delegates under their party and encouraged COPAC to genuinely and honestly engage CSO's to ensure that they are properly constituted, if the process was to move ahead positively.

"When we put together outreach teams for the COPAC process, the methodology we used was wrong because perceived political affiliation of civil society organisations was a serious consideration. Even we in the MDC felt that Progressive Civil Society was allied to our Cousins in the MDC-T. But the issues that have been placed on the table now by Civics on delegations are genuine concerns which shows that there has been a transformation in civil society from our polarised past to playing their genuine none partisan roles as Watch Dogs. Their concerns deserve to be considered and dialogue with them should be pursued. €

 

Hon Douglas Mwonzora, the only COPAC Co-Chaairperson who was in attendence,  indicated that the 3 main objectives of the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference were to:

  1. Update all stakeholders on the progress of the constitution making process.
  2. To table the COPAC 18th of July draft constitution.
  3. To invite comments and recommendations from delegates.

He made it clear to the Mpata audience that the Stakeholders Conference was not a drafting process but just a formality to give feedback on the status of the constitution making process. He also indicated that the accreditation process begins on the 16th of October 2012 and that a conference roll will be compiled to check on the delegates attending the conference. Adding  that journalists and both local and international observers were welcome to monitor and observe the process for as long as they undergo proper accreditation.

A blow by blow account of some of the highlights of the meeting can be gleened at the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition facebook page at : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Crisis-in-Zimbabwe-Coalition/142285398361?ref=hl

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