COPAC Consultation with ZIm Diaspora

copacJohannesburg, South Africa - On 1st of October 2010 saw the first ever Zimbabwean Diaspora Constitutional Consultation with the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) in a meeting organised by the Council of Zimbabwe Christian Leaders UK and the South Africa based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.

COPAC was represented by Co-Chairs Hon Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T),Hon Paul Magwana (ZANU (PF) and the PA to Hon Edward Mkhosi (MDC-M), Mr Maxwell Zimuto whilst the Diaspora was represented by Constitutional Coalition (zimcc) , The Zimbabwe Development Chamber, as well as the Global Zimbabwe Forum among others. COPAC was represented by Co-Chairs Hon Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T),Hon Paul Magwana (ZANU (PF) and the PA to Hon Edward Mkhosi (MDC-M), Mr Maxwell Zimuto whilst the Diaspora was represented by Constitutional Coalition (zimcc) , The Zimbabwe Development Chamber, as well as the Global Zimbabwe Forum among others.

The purpose of the meeting was for the co-Chairs to explain to the Diaspora how their views could be effectively collected and incorporated into the COPAC process.

Engagement with the Diaspora was a watershed moment for Zimbabwes constitutional reform process as previously the Diaspora felt that they had been excluded in the all too important exercise of drafting a supreme law for the country. Noteworthy in the deliberations was the assurance by the Co-Chairs that the only barrier to Diaspora involvement is financial. The ball is in your courts said Hon Paul Mangwana, raise the resources among yourselves and be involved.

The Diaspora coalition used the meeting to highlight some preliminary constitutional issues from the Diaspora that include the demand for the vote, both at the Referendum stage and in future national elections and the desire for dual or multiple citizenship. Also highlighted were the importance of land reform, the importance of upholding Zimbabwes traditional institutions and recognition of the nations war veterans and creation of a reasonable social support system for them. A strong case was put forward for Diaspora involvement in the COPAC process to ensure that those who wanted to contribute to the development of the country do so in an enabling environment that cherishes human rights and the rule of law. The Diaspora also argued that socio-economic rights should be made justiciable. A strong case was also made for the empowerment and protection of vulnerable groups including children, the disabled and the elderly.

The Zimbabwean Diaspora groups requested COPAC to include them in future processes and structures such as the thematic committees, the Second National Stakeholders Conference, the drafting stage and the Constitutional referendum. COPAC assured the Diaspora that henceforth the Zimbabwean Diaspora communitys views will be taken and made part and parcel of the final product. Originally we were going to consult the Diaspora but were restricted by the funding problem. There is no political opposition to Diaspora participation said Hon Douglas Mwonzora one of the Co-Chairs in the constitutional reform process.

COPAC also tasked the Zimbabwean Diaspora community to consult widely and consolidate views in a singular Diaspora document. Consult even the groups in the Diaspora that you dont agree with or have different interests from you, said Hon Mwonzora. It was agreed that by the 25th of October 2010, the views would have been submitted to COPAC.

Further consultations are going to take place amongst Diaspora groups in the next few weeks, resulting in the submission of a formal document to COPAC.

For more information call Gabriel Shumba, Executive Director, Zimbabwe Exiles Forum – +27 72 6393 795 [email protected] .

Zeb Manatse (Zimbabwe Constitutional Consultation UK) [email protected]

Qobo Mayisa (Council of Zimbabwean Christian Leaders (UK) – [email protected]

Post published in: Politics

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