The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Copac Management Committee Under Fire

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Previous elections poster: The country will prepare for a referendum after the constitution is finalised.

COPAC management committee has come under fire for attempting to extend the stay in Government of Global Political Agreement appointees beyond the life of the GPA itself.

Legal and political analysts yesterday said it was wrong for the GPA appointees to remain in office after the agreement falls away.

They said this in response to a provision in Schedule 6 of the draft constitution, where the management committee provided for the extension of the tenure of the Prime Minister, his deputies and ministers and their deputies until a new President is sworn after the next elections.

University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Professor Lovemore Madhuku said it was clear the provision had been created to extend the stay of certain people in Government.

"They obviously want to make sure MDC people remain in place until the last date," Prof Madhuku said.

"However, I think it's an innocent provision because they don't want Government to be dissolved until the elections so that the business continues."

Legal expert and Mashonaland Central Governor, Advocate Martin Dinha, said in some jurisdictions, transitional authority was only vested in the President.

"The challenge that is there is that ministers remain in place ahead of the elections, those people are likely to interfere with governance.

"In jurisdictions such as the United States, the President is the one who has transitional authority," Advocate Dinha said.

He said the transitional authority was necessary for continuity of governance.

A political analyst who requested anonymity accused the management committee of smuggling provisions that had not come from the outreach to further their personal interests.

"This is a dark door trick by the GPA negotiators who are trying to abuse the draft constitution taking advantage of their roles as Copac's management committee.

"They are trying to get the whole country to extend the life of the GPA in general and Constitution Amendment 19 so that the GPA offices of Prime Minister and

Deputy Prime Ministers continue beyond the GPA.

"This is contrary to Amendment 19 in general and Schedule 8 in particular which makes it clear that those new offices were created by the GPA and were supposed to end with the GPA."

Another source added: "This is designed to assist (Prime Minister) Morgan Tsvangirai, (Deputy Prime Minister) Arthur Mutambara, (Prof) Welshman Ncube and (Mrs) Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga to continue in their offices despite the fact that they were not elected at the last elections.

"It is clear that the management committee has abused the constitution-making process to advance their personal interests and circumstances.

"This is an aberration and to suggest that if the GPA is to collapse today for one reason or another, members of the Government created by the GPA would remain in Government."

However, Mr Terrence Hussein of Ranchhod and Hussein law firm said there was nothing wrong with the executive remaining in place ahead of elections.

Mr Jonathan Samkange of Venturas and Samkange law firm concurred with Mr Hussein, saying there was need to remove a vacuum in governance before and after the elections.

"It is the standard everywhere, for instance in England, the Queen dissolves Parliament before the elections but the ministers remain in place," he said.

Zanu-PF Politburo member and political analyst, Professor Jonathan Moyo, said there would not be a vacuum in governance because the President was not a creation of the GPA, thus would continue during the transition.

"To suggest that there will be a vacuum is tantamount to saying there was a vacuum before February 13, 2009 when the inclusive Government was formed.

"Everybody knows there was no vacuum, if there was indeed a vacuum that would have been specified in the both Constitution Amendment 19 and the GPA itself.

"If anyone says it is meant to remove a vacuum, it is not in the GPA and Amendment 19 but in the heads of the people who are saying that," Prof Moyo said.

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