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Civil society urges COPAC to be inclusive at the 2nd All Stakeholders' Conference

More than 500 people thronged the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel auditorium to attend a Bulawayo Agenda and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition organized Talk Show held on the 27th of September 2012.

The meeting was meant to create a platform for the public to engage with leaders who are involved in the constitution making process under COPAC. It was also an opportunity for Civil society to gather people's concerns as the process gathers momentum towards the 2nd All Stakeholders; Conference. The speakers were Mr Thabani Nyoni, who is the Spokesperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Bulawayo Agenda Director, Mr Joshua Mhambi of the MDC led professor Welshman Ncube, Hon Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-T Spokesperson and COPAC Co-Chairperson, Mr Steven Nkiwane of ZAPU, George Tshabangu of ZANU PF, Charles  Mungofa of Mavambo Kusile Dawn and Effie Ncube of the Matabeleland Constitutional Reform Agenda (MACRA).

 

COPAC co-chairperson, Hon Douglas Mwonzora stated that only the COPAC draft constitution shall be taken to the 2nd All Stakeholders' Conference. He said that ZANU PF had insisted on having the National Statistical report at the Conference and they had finally agreed to include it in the info-pack.

 

Hon. Mwonzora informed the gathering that before they could agree to go ahead with the 2nd All stakeholders' conference , the three main political parties who are represented in COPAC had to agree on terms of reference and other imperatives. "We are at a very important step in the history of our struggle for a new constitution. In two weeks, we will be having the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference which must be all inclusive. We had to set things right, firstly we had to agree on clear terms reference for the conference. We also agreed on the issue of security and the intention is to allow people their freedom to contribute and to that end we have made sure we provide maximum security for all delegates, € said Hon. Mwonzora.

 

Hon Mwonzora also emphasised that only COPAC documents would be  tabled at the 2nd All Stakeholders' Conference are COPAC documents with views, from the national outreach, institutions, children, people living with disabilities and the diaspora, and nothing else from other sectors would be acceptable. He told the audience that it was daydreaming for anyone to believe that the ZANU PF amendments would be tabled at the Conference since they did not form any part of the COPAC authentic documents. "We have no problems if the ZANU PF Draft is debated in the politburo, but I have a problem when a particular party begins to behave like a bully at a school. That, we have said no and we will stick to the COPAC Draft as our point of reference, € emphasised Hon. Mwonzora.

Civil society representatives implored COPAC to ensure that the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference would be an all-inclusive process. Speaking at the same talk show, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson and Bulawayo Agenda Director, Mr Thabani Nyoni highlighted that political parties must understand that civil society is independent from political parties and represents the interests of the people who are not part of the political parties' negotiation process. He said that people should be allowed to air their views freely without being coached by politicians. "As civil society we want to go to the 2nd all stakeholders independently and not out of the benevolence of political parties. We are not there to support any political party but to defend the rights and views of the people. The people of Zimbabwe should frame what Zimbabwe should be like not ZANU-PF, MDC or any other party, € emphasised Mr Nyoni.

Mr Nyoni noted that the chaos that surrounded the1st All Stakeholders Conference held in 2009 served as a lesson learnt and should not be allowed to happen again. He alluded to how the process was flawed but emphasised on the need for the country to move forward. "We as civil society have 9 clear imperatives that should be followed before and during at the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference. If these 9 imperatives are followed, then issues to do with security of persons, conference observation, delegates allocation, tolerance and other important ingredients will be addressed and we will have one of the most successful and productive 2nd All Stakeholders Conference, said Mr Nyoni.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Spokesperson, Mr Nyoni warned political parties that if COPAC fails to allocate Civil society 70% of the delegates to Civil society, then the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference would go ahead without Civil society and the people's voice. "We will boycott the conference if you so decide to make us your appendages. This is not an empty threat. Just give us our 70% allocation and we will come in our numbers, € he concluded.

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