2nd All-Stakeholders' Conference facing problems

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, ZESN ballot update reports that while the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference finally took place last month — though devoid of overt violence and intimidation — it faced a number of problems.

ZESN identified the exclusion of political parties not in the Government of National Unity, (GNU).
The constitution making process has excluded all parties that are not part of the inclusive government such as Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD), Zapu and Zanu Ndonga among others yet they do represent particular constituencies.

Copac also limited the number of observers that were allocated to organisations that had requested to observe the process. Interested organisations such as ZZZICOMP were allocated 10 observers and this was inadequate given the number of chapters that were under discussion.

In addition, civil society was asked to attend Copac under the auspices of political parties.

This has been the trend since the beginning of the constitution making process and it is exclusionary as some groups want to maintain their neutrality and impartiality so that they could independently air their views.

Civil society groups refused to be subsumed under political parties as political parties had coached the people and they were split between protecting the draft and pushing amendments in the draft.

In addition, there was a lack of cognisance that the positions of political parties do not always coincide with civil society positions and goals.

The inclusion of Professor Arthur Mutambara as a Principal brought confusion as Professor Welshman Ncube boycotted the opening citing their exclusion as Mutambara was said not to represent any party in the GNU.

Mutambara during his speech reminded delegates, Copac leadership and the Principals that crafting a good constitution will not be the panacea to the country’s problems when such a document is disregarded and flouted at will by the leaders.

He stressed the importance of “constitutionalism” which entails respecting the constitution and governing within its limits.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s speech traced the history of constitution-making in Zimbabwe up to the current Copac led exercise which he called a “people-driven process”.

The speech made by President Mugabe emphasised the need for a new constitution and how the process needs to be done in peace.

However, it could have disempowered and caused despondency among delegates as they were informed that the final decision on the constitution lay with the Principals not the delegates, hence making a mockery of the whole conference.

The statement also run contrary to the spirit and letter of Article 6 of the constitution which calls for a people driven constitution not a principal driven constitution. - Staff Writer

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