Copac gives in to principals' demands

HARARE - Parliament's constitution select committee is giving in to executive demands to hand all Constitution reports so that the three Principals can finalise the writing of the new charter.

The 25-member Parliament select committee met in Harare yesterday amid executive demands to present a report from the Second All-Stakeholders report and the constitution draft to President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara so that they can take it from there.

“We are still finalising the report and have set up a subcommittee which is working on the report to present to the Principals. This will be done through the management committee,” Zanu PF Constitution Parliamentary Committee (Copac) co-chair Paul Mangwana told the Daily News yesterday.

The Copac management committee is made up of coalition government negotiators and the minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga.

Mangwana said the final draft which will be presented to the Principals will incorporate changes based on the contributions made by stakeholders at the constitutional conference in Harare last week.

“We are making changes according to what was agreed; on those issues that we disagreed, we are using our deadlock-breaking mechanisms to come to an agreement and make changes based on that,” he said.

The Second All-Stakeholders’ ended peacefully but observers reported that political parties had coached their delegates on arguments to present in the 18 thematic committees which discussed the draft and made recommendations to the Copac.

Edward Mkhosi, Copac co-chair from the smaller MDC, said it will be up to the management committee to decide what to do with the reports.

He said nothing has been finalised on who they will present the reports to.

“After the technical committee has finished working on the report, which we hope they will have done by Monday, they will give it to the full select committee which will then present it to the management committee. It is up to the management committee to decide who to present it to,” he said.

Minister Matinenga said whatever they decide to do with the report as the management committee will be in line with Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which prescribes that the constitution-making process must be spearheaded by Parliament not by the three Principals.

“We will cross the bridge when we get there, at the moment I would not want to speculate on what we will do with the report,” he said.

“We will know what to do with it once we have the report, depending on its content,” Matinenga said.
President Mugabe has insisted that GPA Principals will have a say in the final product before the draft goes to a referendum.

Opening the fifth session of the seventh Parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe said the Principals had mandated the MPs to undertake the outreach programme for them and they will now complete the process themselves given the deadlock over demands by Zanu PF to make over 200 amendments to the July 18, 2012 draft produced by Copac.

“Copac should work frantically to produce a report of the (Second All- Stakeholders) Conference summarising the views expressed by the stakeholders, in particular divergent views and submit a report to the Principals who will take necessary steps to set up an appropriate mechanism to build required consensus on the way forward, mindful that our major objectives remain the holding of the harmonised elections in March 2013 under a new constitution,” Mugabe said.

Civil society groups have raised fears that the draft will be manipulated by Principals to suit their political interests, relegating views gleaned from nationwide public consultations held in 2010, useless. - Bridget Mananavire

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