Tsvangirai saves Copac from crumbling

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has blocked attempts which emanated from President Robert Mugabe’s office to dismantle the Constitution Select Committee (Copac).

After failing to collapse Copac through litigation and clear sabotage, Zanu PF hardliners last week tried to dismantle the body clandestinely.

Tsvangirai had to intervene and approach Mugabe after Copac employees were told their contracts would not be renewed.

Mugabe, in turn, expressed surprise at the termination of the Copac and claimed he was in the dark, leaving questions on the hand behind the move, according to high level sources in government.

Contracts of Copac employees ran out last week and the President’s Office was reluctant to have new deals for the men and women who have led the process since 2009 renewed.

A termination of Copac workers contracts before the completion of the constitution making process would have spelt doom for the country’s efforts towards writing a new people driven constitution as the secretariat of Copac acts as the engine room of the three-year-old process.

The dissolution of the Copac would have been a step towards snatching the process from Parliament which is what Mugabe is advocating for.

Mugabe’s Zanu PF is still to make a stand on the draft constitution although many of the party’s senior members have expressed their desire to see Copac disbanded so that elections can be held under the old, discredited constitution.

MDC formations have already endorsed the proposed new charter. Last week’s moves took the MDC by surprise.

Douglas Mwonzora, Copac co-chairperson, told the Daily News that Tsvangirai had to intervene to have the contracts renewed.

“We as Copac had recommended that the contracts of the workers should be renewed until end of December. But we were told that there was an instruction not to renew the contracts that came from the President’s Office,” said Mwonzora.

Mwonzora, who also doubles as the spokesperson of the MDC, said Copac approached Tsvangirai seeking assistance on extension of the contracts.

“We approached the PM who was opposed to the termination of the contracts before the task of writing a new constitution was completed. He in turn approached the president. After the PM’s intervention, we heard that the contracts would be renewed after all,” said Mwonzora.

Tsvangirai, who as a principal shares executive powers with Mugabe albeit in a limited manner, phoned Mugabe over the issue but the Zanu PF leader confessed ignorance on the developments, sources said.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are in a troubled coalition government and time and again the 88-year-old has made unilateral decisions that have drawn the ire of his governing partners.

Since 2009,  Copac, which is co-chaired by Paul Mangwana of Zanu PF, Mwonzora of the MDC and Mkhosi of Ncube led MDC, has chewed close to $50 million dollars and presently owes various hotels millions of dollars in unpaid bills.

At the just ended 2nd All Stakeholders meeting, Mugabe reiterated that principals (Tsvangirai, himself and Industry and Commerce minister who leads the smaller MDC), will have the final say on the draft effectively removing Copac, which has played the leading role in penning a new constitution from the picture.

The Executive, which was borne from the power sharing Global Political Agreement signed at the behest of Sadc after an inconclusive poll in 2008, is being accused by Parliament of usurping powers of the other arms of government.

Mugabe says Parliament does not have the final decision on the constitution making process.

Reports say the two MDC formations in Parliament are agreed that they will not hand the draft constitution to Mugabe.


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