2nd Stakeholders Conference will be another circus

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is wary over the manner in which the second ‘all’ stakeholders conference on the draft Constitution is being organized. ZCTU is of a strong conviction that the authorities should skip the so-called second stakeholders’ conference and subject the COPAC draft document to a referendum and let the people decide whether or not it is what they want.

There is nothing ‘all’ or ‘inclusive’ about the conference if media reports are anything to go by especially with the planned cosmetic inclusion of civic society groups. Civic society organizations are independent entities that should attend the conference representing their own constituencies and not as appendages of political parties. In our view, if this conference succeeds, it should not allow the revisiting or amendment of the draft document.

ZCTU has always taken issue with Article 6.1 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that excludes other political players besides the three signatories to the GPA from the constitutional making process. Other players such as civic groups are reduced to mere spectators and ‘assistants’. Article 6.1 states that ‘The Parties hereby agree:

(a) that they shall set up a Select Committee of Parliament composed of representatives of the Parties whose terms of reference shall be as follows:

(i) to set up such subcommittees chaired by a member of Parliament and composed of Members of Parliament and representatives of Civil Society AS MAY BE NECEESSARY TO ASSIST the select committee in performing its mandate herein;’

The GPA does not have terms of reference for the stakeholders’ conference so no one is really clear what the conference is all about. The stakeholders’ conference should not be allowed to give itself powers that have not been defined by the GPA. COPAC politically negotiated people’s views to come up with the draft hence only the ‘people’ can decide in a referendum whether they accept the draft document or not.

It is also sad that plundering and greed has also taken centre stage as the prior processes were more of a money-making venture than serious business. In any case, there are no guarantees that there will be no violence as happened with the first all stakeholders’ conference. Innocent people have been assaulted before despite police presence even in the Parliament of Zimbabwe people have been violently attacked.

The draft document should be subjected to a referendum because political parties were represented during negotiations for the draft document and we do not want a situation where the political parties also dominate this process in the disguise of a second stakeholders’ conference. Or is it just another gathering to pamper political party faithfuls and blow away thousands of dollars?

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