Progress on COPAC's Review of the First Draft

CONSTITUTION WATCH 2012 [13th March 2012]

Progress on COPAC’s Review of the First Draft

Work on First Draft Speeds Up

COPAC co-chairs complete their review of first draft

On Tuesday 6th March the three COPAC co-chairs – Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana of ZANU-PF, Douglas Mwonzora of MDC-T and Edward Mkhosi of MDC – announced that they had completed their own “review” of the first draft of the new constitution on Monday 5th March. This had been done with the assistance of the technical committee [this is the 17-member committee representing the three GPA parties and the chiefs] and expert advisers. The next step, they said, was for their review report to be presented to the full Select Committee which would in turn go through the draft.

Draft considered by full Select Committee

On Wednesday last week the co-chairs presented their review report to the full COPAC Select Committee. Working at the Harare International Conference Centre, the Select Committee then started going through the report and the first draft of the constitution. The COPAC press statement issued at a press and civil society briefing at noon that Friday said that the Select Committee’s review was “nearly complete”. Later information was that the Select Committee was expected to finish the job on Monday 12th March. A report would then be given to the Management Committee at a meeting also planned for Monday, but subsequently rescheduled for today Tuesday 13th March. But, as key members of the committee, ZANU-PF negotiator and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa and Emerson Mnangagwa are not available on Tuesday, the meeting may not take place or may not be able to finalise the parked issues.

Management Committee to decide on “parked issues”

At its meeting the Management Committee is expected to decide on the remaining outstanding issues which have until now been “parked” because of inter-party disagreements at Select Committee level. These parked issues include devolution of power, the death penalty and dual citizenship.

Request for draft by the GPA principals?

Although at meeting on 27th February the GPA principals said they would like to see the completed draft on 12th March [a request – not an ultimatum as reported by the press] they will obviously have to wait a few weeks longer.

Remaining Work of Three Lead Drafters

the lead drafters cannot start work on the final version of the draft constitution until all issues have been finally agreed, by COPAC co-chairs, the COPAC Select Committee, the Management Committee, which includes the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs and the three GPA parties’ negotiators, and by the GPA principals – President Mugabe, Prime Minster Tsvangirai and DPM Mutambara.

COPAC believes the work the three lead drafters will need to do can be completed within five days.

COPAC Rejects Criticism of UNDP-Sponsored Foreign Expert Adviser

At Friday’s briefing the co-chairs, responding to questions, dismissed savage criticism from within ZANU-PF of the presence within the COPAC process of UNDP-sponsored South African expert adviser, Hassen Ebrahim. This had appeared in The Herald of 8th March. ZANU-PF co-chair Mangwana explained that Mr Ebrahim’s appointment by the UNDP had been approved by the co-chairs, that he was an internationally recognised constitutional expert and that they had no reservations about his purely advisory contribution to the constitution-making process. A separate press statement, signed by all three co-chairs confirmed this and emphasised that “key decisions in this process have been made by COPAC itself”. The statement also expresses “gratitude for the support given to us by the UNDP and the consortium of donors who have so generously supported the process” and concludes thus: “Without the financial and technical assistance from our co-operating partners, COPAC would not have made the progress it has made.”

More From COPAC’s Press Briefing of Friday 9th March

Other issues were touched on in COPAC’s first press statement on Friday:

Materials the drafters used “The people’s views collected during outreach formed the basis for the discussions around the proposed new draft. These views which were collected during outreach are contained in the national report which is still under construction as it is about the whole process. It is from this report that two important draft foundational documents, one of constitutional issues and the other of constitutional principles were derived. In drafting the proposed draft, the drafters used these two important documents as well as the gap-filling document produced by the Select Committee with the assistance of its Technical Committee. This process therefore guarantees that the people’s views will be contained in the new draft.”

Publicising the second/final draft “Once this document is in place, it will be then be widely publicized to give all Zimbabweans to familiarise with its contents before it is taken to the Second All-Stakeholders Conference.” Translations into all indigenous languages will be provided.

Purpose of Second All-Stakeholders Conference

“As this is a people-driven process, the purpose of the conference is to give Zimbabweans, through their representatives, an opportunity to comment on the draft before it is finalised and taken to Parliament for debate and the referendum thereafter.”

Comment on COPAC’s Statement

On materials given to lead drafters The brief 26-item constitutional principles document was sent out in Constitution Watch of 21st February and subsequently appeared in the press. But COPAC has not so far made public the other two documents referred to – the constitutional issues document and the gap-filling document. Nor has it released its instructions to the three lead drafters, although doing so might have served to dampen the unpleasant campaign of criticism directed at them personally by those objecting to certain provisions in their leaked first draft.

On the national report The statement that this national report will be “about the whole process”, and is therefore still under construction, is unconvincing. Of course COPAC is expected to produce a report on the whole constitution-making process. But previously COPAC has given the impression that the process of gathering the views of the people would result in a national report on the outreach, with a statistical component and a narrative component. The leaked “national report” published by the Herald in December covers statistics of outreach meetings only; it does not include Diaspora contributions or those received directly by COPAC from stakeholders such as Parliament, the disabled, children; and it has no narrative component, analysing all contributions from both the qualitative and the quantitative angles. The qualitative/quantitative arguments between ZANU-PF and the other parties delayed progress last year when the district and provincial outreach reports were being compiled. So this latest statement reads like an attempt to gloss over the inability of the political parties within COPAC to reach consensus on the narrative component of the promised national report on the whole outreach exercise.

COPAC Expenditure

Cost of the drafting stage The total cost of the drafting stage is put at $1.7 million. This stage is regarded as having commenced with the Great Zimbabwe Hotel, Masvingo Workshop at the beginning of November, so the amount covers not only the remuneration of the three lead drafters but also the work of the fifteen technical experts and rapporteurs who have contributed to this part of the constitution-making process, their meetings and the workshops and retreats of the co-chairs and the Select Committee.

Second All-Stakeholders Conference The current forecast within COPAC for holding the conference is “April or May”. The budget for the conference is $2.1 million. This will be a smaller gathering [2 500 delegates] than the First All-Stakeholders Conference in July 2009 [which involved over 4 000 delegates].

COPAC Preparatory work for Referendum This will cost about $200 000. But the costs and organisation of the Referendum itself will be the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Estimated overall expenditure COPAC’s total expenditure is likely to hit the $45 million mark. About half of that was spent on the outreach programme, which not only overran its originally planned 65 days by another 40 days, but also involved nearly twice as many people – 1300 all told – than the originally planned 700. Transport costs were very high – principally for hiring vehicles and paying for fuel. 260 vehicles were hired at a basis cost of $100 per vehicle, but with distances over 200 kilometres per day costing extra. Another major component of outreach costs was made up of accommodation and subsistence and remuneration for those involved in the programme.

COPAC Co-ordinator Gift Marunda has rejected allegations that the prospect of substantial financial gains for the parliamentarians on the Select Committee has prompted undue prolonging of the constitution-making process.

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