New spark in constitution-making process

May 9, 2011 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

The on-and-off constitution-making process in Zimbabwe has resumed after
nearly two months of dormancy.

The programme was reignited this week but there are doubts the constitution
will be in place before the end of the year.

The Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (Copac), the body charged with
drawing up a new constitution, has failed to meet to set time frames and
deadlines since its inception in July last year.

Copac failed to meet the deadlines mainly due to financial contraints and
squabbling between Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC-T) faction of leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

But after almost two months of stalling, Copac resumed the process with a
two-day training workshop in Harare this week.

The training, attended by about 600 people from political parties and civil
society bodies, was meant to equip participants with skills to work in
committees dealing with 17 themes.Participants who attended the workshop
said discussions centred around the best way of identifying key issues that
citizens raised in Copac outreach meetings, which ended more than three
months ago, and placing those issues in a draft constitution.

The Copac outreach process was mired by violence as supporters of Zanu-PF
and the two MDC fractions fought running battles.

In Mbare, one of Harare’s poorest and oldest townships, one person was
killed as Zanu-PF and MDC-T supporters clashed when Copac teams moved into
the suburb to gather and record views from residents.

The process had to be abandoned, but was resuscitated about a month later in
the presence of heavily armed police.

There were also allegations of political intimidation and coaching of people
during the outreach process. At one time a laptop containing crucial data
collected from citizens was reportedly stolen from Copac’s office.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a loose grouping of about 300 civil
society bodies shadowing the constitution-making process, says it hopes
Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions will shrug off their differences and
prioritise the drafting of a new constitution with a bill of rights, which
is expected to usher in fresh elections.

“The political parties should put aside their differences and prioritise
national interest, since the process is the road map towards the holding of
free and fair elections.

“Hence, the process must be given due respect,” the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition said.


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