19 July 2012

Zimbabwe: GPA Negotiators Under Pressure

SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma is piling pressure on the negotiators of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to conclude the writing of the new constitution as well as the election roadmap in another desperate attempt to force ZANU-PF and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to fully implement the power-sharing truce before fresh polls.

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara are yet to receive the final draft of the constitution as it emerged this week that the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC)'s management committee has not finalised constitutional issues referred to them.

In the past month, COPAC has held several meetings in Nyanga and Harare to try and hammer out the outstanding issues in their draft which had been stalled by ZANU-PF's demands submitted last month in a 30-page document.

The main issues that had stalled the constitution draft were on security sector reform and devolution of power.

Although COPAC has put out tenders for the printing of the final draft, the production of the final document appears to hinge on the COPAC management committee, which would have the final say before the draft is presented to the three principals signatory to the GPA.

There are also disagreements between the three political parties over the Electoral Amendment Act, particularly on ward-based voting, among other electoral issues, although it is rumoured the parties have reached a compromise on security sector reform.

The new constitution, to be taken to a national referendum after a second all-stake-holders conference, is envisaged to lead to fresh polls although President Mugabe is on record as saying he could be forced to call elections with or without a new constitution.

Lindiwe Zulu, the international relations advisor to Zuma, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) appointed mediator, told The Financial Gazette this week that her boss' priority at the moment is to push for the conclusion of the constitution-making exercise, and following up on the election roadmap in Zimbabwe.

Zulu is also the spokesperson of Zuma's facilitation team. She said the South African team was now concentrating itself with making sure there was progress on issues previously discussed.

"Priority for the facilitation team now is to follow up on the things agreed in the previous meetings such as the constitution, the outstanding issues of the GPA and the election ro-admap," she said.

Asked whether the-re was any truth in reports of talks being hamstrung by political squabbling and a seemingly lack of impetus from the SADC appointed facilitation team; Zulu denied that progress on the Zimbabwe negotiations were stalling.

She said there was progress as the constitution was nearing completion and Zuma's team was closely monitoring developments in Zimbabwe.

Zulu also revealed that her boss was engaging the European Union (EU) on the issue of targeted sanctions.

"Engagement has been continuous. In fact, that we have to engage has been on the agenda at all times. The Angola summit decided that we have to engage the EU too," she said.

While the facilitation team could not determine the actual date when Zimbabwe could have elections, Zulu said the SADC facilitators will insist on following the election roadmap.

"We will insist on the election roadmap, conditions have to be free and fair for any elections to be held," said Zulu.

Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga has said the draft should be out by the end of this month, indicating some progress in the constitution-making process.

He also declared that the negotiators had settled the outstanding issues including that of the security sector, but refused to divulge what was agreed.

"I do not want to encroach into an area that is not mine but I can tell you that the talks are dependent on the constitution. We are making good progress with the constitution," said Matinenga.

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