Constitution Watch of 10th February 2012

COPAC Press Briefing 9th February

At a press briefing just before lunchtime yesterday, Thursday 9th February, the COPAC released a press statement signed by all three party co-chairpersons giving the following information:

The draft is not final – it is still under review

• The Select Committee is still, with assistance from technical experts, reviewing “the first draft proposal of the new constitution”.

• A lot of work has been so far been done, but the draft proposal is “work in progress until it is approved by COPAC”.

• The Select Committee states categorically that “No suggested positions in the first proposal can be taken as final.”

Zimbabweans urged be patient The statement urges Zimbabweans to exercise patience and “give the Select Committee and the team of experts the opportunity to finalise the draft” and warns that “people should not to be distracted by hearsay”.

Disclaimer on Presidential age limit and terms of office The co-chairs stressed that the Select Committee has “not yet deliberated on, among other issues, the age limit or the terms of office of the President”; and that neither COPAC nor its co-chairs had given information to the press on the substance of Presidential qualifications or disqualifications.

[Note: There have been articles in the independent newspapers suggesting that in the outreach process a majority of Zimbabweans stated that people who have already served two terms, or are over 70, should not be allowed to contest Presidential elections and predicting that the new constitution may provide accordingly.]

Undertaking to avail draft in vernacular and Braille and English The statement repeats the COPAC commitment that once the final draft is in place it will be translated into all vernacular languages as well as Braille and “availed to all Zimbabweans to comment at the Second All-Stakeholders Conference before the referendum”.


At the press conference there were several questions raised about funding and the COPAC co-chairs had the following to say in response:

• The drafting process has been extended by 15 days. The process is being financed by donors who have already made the funds for the additional days available. According to the co-chairs the drafting process should be complete by the end of February.

• The Second All Stakeholders’ Conference is expected to cost approximately $14 million. The Government is funding the conference which is envisioned to take place at the end of March. The Finance Minister is looking into the matter of financing the conference and it is expected that the funds will be made available.

• The donors will be financing publicity up to the Referendum and the estimated cost is $2.9 million which has already been made available.

“Full Draft Constitution” Published by The Herald

In today’s [10th February 2012] issue of The Herald there is an eight-page pullout claiming to be the full text of the “Constitution 2012 – 1st Draft”. COPAC have not confirmed that this leaked draft is in fact the draft they received from the three lead drafters. Even if it was the correct version, it could only be the first draft which COPAC is in the process of reviewing. It is still a work in progress and as the lead drafters have been booked for 15 more days, obviously changes are anticipated.

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