'Copac business over'

HARARE - Negotiators yesterday finalised a draft constitution that effectively clips President Robert Mugabe’s wings if he wins the forthcoming general elections.

Speaking after the lead negotiators’ meeting at Pandari Lodge, Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga said Copac business was over and was ready to be introduced in Parliament.

Matinenga said Copac co-chairpersons Douglas Mwonzora, Paul Mangwana and Edward Mkhosi would notify Parliament on February 8 when it reopens before giving a full report the following day.

Copac is a cross-party parliamentary body tasked under the Global Political Agreement with writing the country’s new Constitution to pave way for fresh elections following the disputed 2008 presidential election run-off.

“Finality has been reached on the Copac business and on February 8 they will notify Parliament and then give a full report the following day,” said Matinenga.

He said if adopted by Parliament, the executive will take over the process for the proclamation of dates for the referendum and elections.

“The document would automatically be available to the public once it has been adopted by Parliament and the executive takes over,” he said.

President Robert Mugabe , Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube last week agreed on the draft constitution and negotiators simply wanted to establish if all information was correctly captured by the drafters, he said.

The development sets the stage for a referendum and ultimately a watershed election to be held later this year.

Mugabe’s Zanu PF and Tsvangirai’s MDC had differences over the contents of the draft constitution, especially the retention of sweeping presidential powers, the setting up of a national prosecuting authority, a running mate clause, devolution and the setting up of a land commission but last week the principals agreed that a compromise had managed to unlock the impasse.

“We as the principals for government and political parties have been meeting with Copac and the management committee in order for the constitution exercise to come to a conclusion.

“We are glad to say we have come to the conclusion of the exercise and all parties are agreed,” said Mugabe after the Principals’ meeting at State House last week.

The agreement means Mugabe and his Zanu PF party are now going for the “yes vote” after reaching a compromise with Tsvangirai and Ncube. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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