COPAC back on track: Mwonzora

The drafting of the new constitution is back on track following sharp disagreements between the political parties over the writing of district reports.

The process stalled last week, with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party accusing President Mugabe's Zanu (PF) of attempting to fraudulently emasculate the urban voice in the analysis of data collected during the outreach process last year.

Problems emerged as Thematic Committees tasked with sifting information from public hearings disagreed on the template to be used. The dispute was referred to the Management Committee, comprising three of the six negotiators who drafted the global political agreement, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Elton Mangoma and Nicholas Goche.

"The problems encountered in the compilation of the reports have been cleared. We are hoping to complete the process by next week," COPAC co-chairman, Douglas Mwonzora, told The Zimbabwean.

"We have found some common ground, and the process is back on track.

Zanu (PF) COPAC chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said: "We hope we will not encounter more hiccups."

Article 6 of the GPA states the draft constitution should be ready within three months of the completion of the public consultation process – this, together with all the other delays, should have seen a draft constitution completed before the end of February.

Further delays were attributed to problems with the data uploading, supposed to be completed in January. Some data did not find its way onto the central computer because of a technical problem.

There were also reports of tampering with or destruction of data – all denied by COPAC. In addition it was discovered that data submitted via the COPAC website questionnaire for the Diaspora and written submissions, had not been included and this was only completed in mid-March. The longer the process took, the more funding had to be sourced.

After completing the district narrative reports, the committee has to move on to provincial and then national reports before presenting the information to the drafting team, which comprises Justice Moses Chinhengo, a judge at the Botswana High Court, former Zimbabwe High Court Judge Priscilla Madzonga and Brian Crozier, the former legal drafter in the Attorney-General’s Office and also a legal practitioner in Harare.

COPAC still faces stiff opposition from civil society organisations who claim it has failed to take on board their views. “The proposed constitution-making process is fundamentally flawed,”

said Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the NCA. “We are not compromising, we reject it outright. Parliamentarians have no right to write a constitution on behalf of the people.”

COPAC spokeswoman Jessie Majome insists the committee has been consulting widely over the new document.

“It is people-driven, and we have civil society representatives in COPAC," Majome told journalists in the Harare Press Club, the Quill last Friday. "We spoke to everyone and held several stakeholder meetings. We have solicited people’s views on the new constitution, we are not imposing a constitution on the people."

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